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Jul 23, 2019
Florida appreciates new proposal for trade of Mexican tomatoes

U.S. trade policy for fresh Mexican tomatoes is far from resolved, but Florida growers are upbeat on the latest proposal from the U.S. Commerce Department.

The U.S. commerce department has a longstanding investigation into the alleged trade “dumping” of Mexico-grown tomatoes – or export of the tomatoes into the U.S. at unreasonably low prices. For many years, the investigation was suspended by mutual agreement of the two countries. The investigation resumed in May, but a new suspension agreement could again stop the investigation.

In a July 17 public letter, the Commerce Department decided to stand firm on border inspections, writing that it has “decided to maintain its proposal for inspection of l00% of incoming loads of imported tomatoes from Mexico, with inspections based on a sample from each load.”

“This procedure will be a practical and straightforward method for inspecting tomato loads upon entry that does not involve an additional process or administrative burden with respect to a sampling methodology that would otherwise be necessary in the scenario of less-than-100-percent inspections,” according to the Commerce Department’s letter. The Department said such inspections “would normally occur far more quickly than 48 hours.”

The Florida Tomato Exchange said in a statement that it appreciated the effort.

“The Department’s July 17 proposal is a good starting point to resume negotiations with the Mexican industry,” the Florida Tomato Exchange said. “The proposal moves negotiations forward on a constructive basis by recognizing the need for a more enforceable agreement. A robust and enforceable structure is the only way the domestic industry will be able to support a new suspension agreement.”

Rosario Beltran, president of the Mexican grower association CAADES recently said in a news release that he and the other tomato growers were in favor of a new suspension agreement, “but it must be fair.” The news release also said three Mexican growers submitted data that “confirms they are not dumping in the US market.”

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