U.S. proposes end to antidumping duties on Mexican tomatoes
The U.S. Commerce Department has proposed an agreement to drop antidumping duties on imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.
The department believes the draft agreement meets the requirements of U.S. antidumping law and provides an effective remedy for the U.S. domestic industry. “The agreement establishes important mechanisms for increased coverage of Mexican tomato imports and strengthened enforcement. The proposal should thus ensure that there will be fair trade in fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico,” Commerce said.
“I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement on fresh tomato imports from Mexico that restores stability and confidence to the U.S. tomato market and meets the requirements of U.S. law,” Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said in a statement.
“The draft agreement raises reference prices substantially, in some cases more than double the current reference price for certain products, and accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato market since the signing of the original agreement. This solution puts in place important mechanisms to attain increased signatory coverage and robust enforcement that will allow American workers and the U.S tomato industry to compete on a level playing field,” he added.
The proposed agreement covers imports of all fresh or chilled tomatoes of Mexican origin, except tomatoes that are for processing. There have been three previous suspension agreements covering imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, signed in 1996, 2002 and 2008, respectively.
Under U.S. antidumping law, the suspension agreement must prevent price undercutting and price suppression in the U.S. market and eliminate at least 85 percent of the dumping, thus providing the U.S. industry an opportunity to compete on a level playing field, Commerce said.
The initialed agreement, in part, broadens coverage of Mexican tomato imports subject to the agreement and enhances enforcement on the Mexican side of the border through separate mechanisms put in place by Mexico, designed to ensure that signatories to the agreement constitute essentially all Mexican growers/exporters.
The proposed agreement also strengthens enforcement on the U.S. side of the border by incorporating a reporting mechanism administered pursuant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) fair trade regulations.
Commerce will review comments related to the proposed agreement through Feb. 11. The effective date of any final agreement is expected to be March 4.
U.S. tomato growers are wary of the agreement’s ability to level the competition with Mexico.
Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, told the news service Reuters “Mexican growers and their government have tried to protect their interests with tremendous pressure on our government, threats to U.S. producers and a well-funded lobbying and media campaign.”
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