The friction between Mexican and primarily, Floridian field tomato growers, has been eased with a new Tomato Suspension Agreement that will come into effect September 19. The negotiations were no trifling matter with $2 billion of Mexican tomatoes at stake.
The original tomato suspension agreement goes back to 1996. That’s when the U.S. sought to prevent undercutting of fresh market tomato prices from cheaper Mexican tomatoes. The term “suspension” refers to the U.S. suspending an anti-dumping investigation. The agreement has been reviewed every five years since.
This long history predates the most current dispute which imploded four months ago on May 7. At that juncture, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a 17.65 per cent duty on Mexican tomato imports.
In late August, the United Fresh Produce Association expressed optimism that the new agreement would “bring stabilization back to the tomato marketplace.”
The new deal proposes inspection of 92 per cent of the trucks at the border to check tomato quality and for any defects. Some associations, such as the Border Trade Alliance, are concerned that the border checks may hinder the fast flow of perishable product across the border. However, the American Farm Bureau Federation emphasized the importance of an agreement with a NAFTA trading partner.
“Mexico is a vital trading partner for American farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall. “We need this agreement and are grateful negotiators capitalized on the close relationship that exists between our two nations. We look forward to more progress on the trade front and are counting the days until the USMCA becomes law.”
Source: FreshPlaza.com August 22, 2019.