U.S.: Arizona raises concerns over termination of tomato trade agreement with Mexico

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U.S.: Arizona raises concerns over termination of tomato trade agreement with Mexico

Local distributors across Arizona have raised concerns over the U.S. Department of Commerce's plans to withdraw for its decades-long tomato suspension agreement with Mexico.

Leaving the pact with Mexican growers next month - a move favored by the Florida Tomato Exchange and many growers in the U.S. Southeast - will allow for investigations into allegations that product is being dumped into the U.S. market.

But not everyone agrees this move will be advantageous. According to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), in the 22 years that the pact has been in effect, it has created jobs and thriving businesses in the tomato import industry.

Terminating the agreement could mean higher prices for consumers, loss of jobs and businesses in Arizona and across the U.S., the FPAA says.

What's more, it could also impact over 33,000 U.S. workers and 1.4 million workers in Mexico, causing a complete disruption of the North American supply chain, and an escalating trade war that threatens the passage of NAFTA's replacement, the USMCA, the association adds.

In response to the government's announcement, the tomato division chairman of FPAA, Jimmy Mungia, testified on behalf of the association on March 27, urging the Department of Commerce to maintain the agreement.

Members of the Arizona Legislature then drafted a letter to Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross voicing their views on the importance of negotiating the Tomato Suspension Agreement and urging him to sign an updated agreement.

The letter, from the Arizona House Committee on State and International Affairs, notes: “We are concerned to see efforts from certain regional interests to disrupt the normal negotiation process between the Department of Commerce and the Mexican growers, a process that has happened regularly since 1996.

"By not renegotiating an agreement that has worked for over 20 years to stabilize the tomato markets, this Committee fears we would be erecting new trade barriers in fruits and vegetables that will directly harm Arizona businesses and consumers across the United States.”

Beyond FPAA and the state committee, Garrick Taylor from the Border Trade Alliance also presented in favor of maintaining the Tomato Suspension Agreement at the hearing.


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