Mexico surprised by U.S.’s plans to withdraw from tomato suspension agreement

February 21 , 2019

Mexican tomato industry representatives say they are willing to negotiate with the U.S. to reach a mutually beneficial deal, following the latter’s recent announcement that it will withdraw from the tomato suspension agreement and resume anti-dumping investigations.

The news that the U.S. Commerce Department would withdraw from the trade deal signed in 2013 – after heavy criticism from domestic tomato growers – was received with surprise in Mexico.

However, Mexican representatives are hoping the Department will hear their proposals before the 90 notification period ends and the U.S. officially withdraws.

FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with Alfredo Díaz, director of the Mexican Association of Protected Horticulture (AMHPAC), who said the decision had not been expected as the agreement “has been a benefit for everybody and the Mexicans have complied with all the commitments established in the agreements that we signed”.

“What the agreement has done is contain the dumping investigation that started many years ago [1996], and throughout those years, every five years we have renewed that deal, which has provided huge benefits for both sides, has ordered the industry and has forced us to be disciplined in a number of aspects,” he said.

He said the Mexican industry made a series of negotiating proposals to the Commerce Department in November 2018, but the only response they have had is the letter notifying of the U.S.’s intention to withdraw from the agreement.

“We are still insisting to the Commerce Department that we are willing to come to the negotiating table, and we are open to discussing any proposal that they have that is beneficial to all.”

The International Trade Commission (ITC) is carrying out an analysis to determine if Mexican tomato exports have damaged the U.S. industry, with the verdict due to be announced in November.

“We consider that we have all the evidence that shows we have complied fully with all the commitments and that we have not damaged the North American industry. However, it is the ITC who will decide,” he said.

“If the result is positive for us, the antidumping investigation will be suspended and we will return to an open market. If it is negative, we will await the implementation of a dumping tariff.”

Mario Robles, director of the Commission for the Research and Defense of Sinaloa Vegetables (CIDH), said that the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement, and potential additional tariffs later in the year, would increase the costs of Mexican tomatoes along the entire supply chain.

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