By Justin Walker
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a draft agreement with Mexican tomato growers to work out trade disputes on Tuesday evening.
The agreement will suspend the antidumping investigation into fresh tomatoes from Mexico, protecting the domestic tomato industry from unfair trade.
“For many years, there have been disputes over the roughly $2 billion worth of tomatoes that are imported from Mexico annually,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “These disputes led the department to terminate an earlier suspension agreement and continue an investigation that could have led to duties of 25 percent for most Mexican tomato producers. After intensive discussions with all parties, we initialed a new draft suspension agreement with the Mexican growers late (Tuesday) night. This draft agreement meets the needs of both sides and avoids the need for antidumping duties.”
The draft agreement will eliminate the injurious effects of Mexican tomatoes, while ending price suppression and undercutting on the crop. The agreement also addresses loopholes in previous suspension agreements that permitted sales below reference prices.
The statue requires a 30-day comment period following the initialing of the agreement. A final agreement could be signed on Sept. 19, which would suspend the ongoing investigation without issuing a final determination.
The announcement is a sign that the U.S. can reach trade deals without the need for tariffs and stresses the need to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said.
“We are pleased and relieved to see progress with one of our largest and most important trading partners,” Duvall said. “Mexico is a vital trading partner for American farmers and ranchers. We need this agreement and are grateful negotiators capitalized on the close relationship that exists between our two nations. We look forward to more progress on the trade front and are counting the days until the USMCA becomes law.”