Consumers should prepare to dish out more green for their favorite red tomatoes. The Department of Commerce announced the termination of the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico and that negotiations will continue regarding a possible revised agreement acceptable to the Mexican signatories which also addresses the concerns of the U.S. industry to the extent permissible by U.S. trade law.
During the negotiations, Commerce will continue with the investigation and instruct Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits or bonds based on the preliminary determination by Commerce. Any deposits collected will be refunded if a revised agreement is reached, or the U.S. International Trade Commission determines there is no injury based on its own independent investigation.
“The Department of Commerce remains committed to ensuring that American domestic industries are protected from unfair trading practices,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We remain optimistic that there will be a negotiated solution.”
However, not everyone agrees with the decision to terminate the agreement. “We regret that the Department of Commerce has withdrawn the U.S. from the agreement that has governed U.S.-Mexico tomato trade for decades. It’s a move that hits shoppers in the wallet. As a result of this decision and the establishment of tariffs on fresh tomato imports from Mexico, U.S. consumers will face higher prices on popular tomato varieties,” said Border Trade Alliance President Ms. Britton Clarke.
“We hope that agricultural trade between the U.S. and Mexico will soon be conducted tariff-free. Good trade policy should reflect the needs of consumers and the U.S. economy broadly, not the concerns of a small but vocal band of regional interests.”
According to the press release, Commerce will continue with its investigation and notify the ITC of its final determination. If Commerce continues to find sales made at less than fair value in its final determination, the ITC will then complete its own investigation and make a final determination with respect to injury. If both Commerce and the ITC issue affirmative final determinations, an antidumping duty order will be issued.
Commerce opened negotiations with the Mexican signatories in January 2018 and is continuing the discussion to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both Mexican growers and producers, as well as U.S. industry. Should an agreement be reached, Commerce and the Mexican signatories could enter into a new agreement, subject to the 30-day notification period as outlined in the statute.