U.S. to Withdraw from Tomato Suspension Agreement

The Department of Commerce recently announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico beginning May 7. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross indicated in a statement that the decision is a result of complaints from American tomato growers that their prices are being undercut by imports. The 6-year-old agreement prevented an anti-dumping investigation in exchange for Mexican growers agreeing to certain restrictions.

Since the federal government first agreed to suspend anti-dumping cases in 1996, a group of nearly 50 U.S. lawmakers are calling for action on the issue, reporting that Mexican tomato companies increased their share of the American market from 32 to 54 percent. The group also contends that between 1996 and 2017 the market share for U.S. tomato producers declined from 65 to 40 percent.

Withdrawing from the agreement could result in new duties on tomatoes from Mexico and higher consumer prices. The action could also spur retaliation from Mexico, as the two countries continue to address steel and aluminum tariffs.

“We have heard the concerns of the American tomato-producing industry and are taking action today to ensure they are protected from unfair trading practices,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a press release. “The Trump administration will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure trade is free, fair and reciprocal.”

“The U.S. tomato industry has been the canary in the coal mine for domestic fruit and vegetable production over the last three decades. Immediately terminating the suspension agreement will reinvigorate the antidumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico and send the message that the U.S. will ensure vigilant enforcement of our existing trade laws and trade agreements,” U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

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