Mexico eliminates tariffs for limes, tomatillos

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Mexico eliminates tariffs for limes, tomatillos

In response to rising food prices, the Mexican secretary of economy has temporarily eliminated tariffs for key food items, including tomatillos, Key limes, Persian limes and chicken.limes_small

The public decree modifies tariff requirement established in July 2007, citing "adverse weather and health conditions posed by frost and the HLB pest that have appeared in different regions of the country for production of certain fruit, such as tomatillos and different lime varieties whose prices have risen significantly."

"It is necessary to establish measures with the objective of increasing the public offering through access to available products on international markets by deducting the tariff for such items," the announcement explains.

The measure eliminates a 20% tariff for limes and a 10% tariff for tomatillos.

In a television interview, secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal explained that the measure would create an opening for complementary fruit imports from countries like Chile and Argentina, according to

It is hoped that a broader, lower cost offering will normalize the national market and improve prices in three to four months.

The secretary added that compared to April of last year, prices for some food items had doubled.

"This measure won't guarantee a return of lime prices, but there will be improved market conditions and a better offer than what exists at the moment," the secretary said in the Mexican publication.

However, Mexican Lime Product System national representative Sergio Ramirez Castañeda slammed the government over the decision, claiming high retail prices were a result of speculation when there was in fact ample supply.

"Today growers are selling the fruit at MXN2-2.50 (US$0.16-0.20) in Michoacan, so how is it possible that it reaches the consumer at MXN20 (US$1.6) per kilo?" he asked.

"It has to do with people who speculate, saying the market has collapsed, or pointing to social movements or problems with HLB, or that we don't have capacity; it's all lies."

He said the lime industry had carved out an "impressive niche" in Mexico that was adequately filled with an excess of 12-13% sold as export to the United States or Canada.

"In fact, during these last few months we have had a percentage that we’ve shipped to the industry, which is functioning with enough fruit and the market is completely satisfied.

"I think the import of this citrus fruit into the country won’t be very healthy for Mexican limes; it will be a complete collapse for the Mexican citrus industry."

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