U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Intent to Withdraw From Mexican Tomato Pact
- by Maggie Mead
UNITED STATES and MEXICO - Following the urgings of Florida Congressmen, the U.S. Department of Commerce has sent notice to the Mexican signatories to the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico that the Department intends to withdraw from the Agreement. This withdraw is, a press release asserts, consistent with Section VI.B. of the Agreement, which states, “signatories or the Department may withdraw from this Agreement upon ninety days written notice to the other party.” The Department intends to withdraw from the Agreement on May 7, 2019.
The decision, announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, comes on the heels of complaints from U.S. tomato producers concerned about being undercut by imports. Last week, 46 House and Senate members urged Ross to take action, based on Mexico’s share of the U.S. tomato market rising from 32 to 54 percent since 1996 when another tomato trade agreement was enacted, as reported by Politico.
"Three different agreements have already been negotiated over the last 22 years because each previous agreement had failed to work as intended," wrote the lawmakers. "Small family been hit particularly hard...The industry will continue to shrink if the status quo is maintained."
An anti-dumping investigation will continue upon completion of the withdraw, and the International Trade Commission (ITC) will be informed of the Department’s final determination. In the event that the Department finds that sales were made at less than fair value, the ITC will launch its own investigation and make a final decision with respect to injury. If both the Department and the ITC issue affirmative final determinations, an anti-dumping order duty order will be issued.
“We have heard the concerns of the American tomato producing industry and are taking action today to ensure they are protected from unfair trading practices,” said Secretary Ross in a press release. “The Trump Administration will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure trade is free, fair, and reciprocal.”
Negotiations with the Mexican signatories were opened by the Department in January 2018, and despite the best efforts from both sides, significant outstanding issues remained. Concerns were focused on the crafting of a revised agreement that would be acceptable to the Mexican signatories and assuage the worries of the U.S. domestic industry, to the extent possible under U.S. trade law. The Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) had requested the Department to end the agreement and resume the anti-dumping investigation of imported tomatoes from Mexico. At this time, the Department found it appropriate to notify the Mexican signatories of its intent to withdraw, terminate the agreement, and resume the investigation.
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