The U.S. will soon impose a 17.5% tariff on Mexican tomato imports, after the Commerce Department confirmed the country had withdrawn from a 2013 agreement that suspended a U.S. anti-dumping investigation.
“The Department of Commerce remains committed to ensuring that American domestic industries are protected from unfair trading practices,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement on Tuesday. “We remain optimistic that there will be a negotiated solution.”
The tariff will go into effect in about a week, Reuters reported on Tuesday evening.
The U.S. Commerce Department said in early February that the U.S. would resume an anti-dumping investigation into Mexican tomatoes, withdrawing from The Tomato Suspension Agreement that halted the investigation as long as Mexican producers sold their tomatoes above a pre-determined price.
Many U.S. tomato growers and lawmakers say that deal has failed. But while many in the U.S. tomato industry welcome the withdrawal from the Tomato Suspension Agreement, critics say that the move is unjustified and could lead to immediate and significant price rises for U.S. consumers.
The Commerce Department said tariffs could be refunded if a subsequent investigation finds no unfair pricing.
Mexico exports around US$2 billion worth of tomatoes to the U.S. annually.
The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) said in a statement on Tuesday it is disappointed the agreement has been terminated, saying it had been "an important tool in protecting over 33,000 American jobs and creating stability in the marketplace".
"Many entities appealed for the signature of a new or revised Tomato Suspension Agreement. To that end, FPAA would like to acknowledge the efforts of our members, their growers, the Congressional Delegation, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and many others," it said in a statement.
"It is our understanding that the Mexican growers put several proposals on the table to improve an already-effective agreement. Despite the fact that the agreement has been terminated, our hope is that Commerce continues to work in good faith with the growers in Mexico to negotiate a new agreement that balances concerns of growers in Florida with the need to protect our robust trading relationship."