The U.S. will resume an anti-dumping investigation into Mexican tomatoes, withdrawing from a 2013 trade deal that U.S. growers and lawmakers say has failed, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.
The department said it was giving the required 90-day notice before terminating the six-year-old tomato suspension agreement, which prevents anti-dumping cases against fresh tomato imports from the Latin American country.
The action could lead to new duties on Mexican tomatoes and possible retaliation at a time when the two countries are still at odds over U.S. tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum.
A trade war over tomatoes was averted twice since the 1990s - most recently in 2013 with the current deal to put a price floor on Mexican tomatoes sold in the U.S. while barring U.S. growers from pursuing anti-dumping charges against Mexican exporters.
“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 of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
“The Trump Administration will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure trade is free, fair, and reciprocal.”
Upon completion of the withdrawal, the Commerce Department will continue with its investigation and notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its final determination, it said.
It added that if it 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.