Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce indicated the United States will withdraw from a previous agreement with Mexico and resume an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Mexican fresh tomatoes. This came as good news for tomato growers in Florida, finally feeling heard of their frustrations.
According to the Department of Commerce, “In Nov. 2018, the Florida Tomato Exchange requested Commerce end the Agreement and resume the anti-dumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. Commerce finds at this stage that it is appropriate to notify the Mexican signatories of our intent to withdraw, terminate the Agreement, and resume the investigation.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval said, “The renewed anti-dumping investigation against Mexican fresh tomato imports is a necessary action. Despite a previous accord that banned artificially low prices, Mexican producers have found ways to exploit the agreement and increase their market share.”
“Farm Bureau believes in free and fair trade. North American agricultural trade has been an enormous boon for the United States, Mexico and Canada, but the United States must take action when that trade ceases to be fair.”
The Mexican tomato growers today filed a complaint today with the United States Court of International Trade challenging the U.S. Department of Commerce’s determination in the 2018 sunset review of the agreement suspending the anti-dumping investigation on imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.
The Mexican growers challenge whether the Commerce Department ever had the basis for conducting a review, as well as the specific findings the Commerce Department made in this case. If the Mexican growers prevail, the court will order the Department to terminate the suspended investigation and return to a free market.
Robert LaRussa of Shearman and Sterling represents the Mexican tomato growers said, “Mexican tomato growers have been trying for one year to renegotiate an existing agreement with the Commerce Department that has brought variety, quality and sanity to the U.S. market for fresh tomatoes. That effort has been met by resistance by a small group of growers from Florida who have tried to kill the agreement through a variety of legal maneuvers. Although our first preference is to negotiate, if we must fight this out at the Commerce Department, the International Trade Commission and in the courts to maintain a free and fair vegetable market for U.S. consumers then we will do so, as we did today.”
Due to the original agreement, the Department of Commerce had to give a 90 day notice to the other party of withdrawal. With the written notification, Commerce intends to withdraw from the Agreement on May 7, 2019.