Mexican tomato interests look to keep agreement

09/28/2012 05:07:00 PM
Tom Karst

See related story: Commerce Department kills U.S./Mexico tomato agreement.

While some Mexican interests held out hope for preserving a suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the U.S., they also said rocking the trade boat could have severe consequences.

A day after the Commerce Department announced a preliminary decision to end the agreement, Mexican tomato interests met Sept. 28 with officials from the department to discuss renegotiating the agreement, said Robert LaRussa, lawyer with Shearman & Sterling, Washington, D.C., the counsel for Mexican tomato growers.

“This supposed to be a 270-day process, and we expect a 270-day process,” he said. “If they rush it, there can’t be any other reason to rush it except for political reasons,” he said.

The meeting was cordial, said Eric Viramontes, director general and chief executive officer of AMHPAC, the Mexican association of protected horticulture, Culiacan, Sinaloa.

“We are concerned about the preliminary outcome, but we did have our meeting with Commerce and we were able to talk about our proposal and it was well taken,” he said.

Mexican interests also warned of potentially severe trade repercussions if the suspension agreement falls away.

Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Embassy of Mexico in the U.S., said it seems the decision is “dictated by politics rather sound policy.”

“If our interests end up being impacted we will respond, and there is plenty of evidences of how we can respond if you take a look at the trucking dispute we had with the U.S. for a number of years,” he said. “That might serve as an example of a line of action we might take if it comes to that.”

In 2009, Mexico enacted tariffs of 10% to 45% on grapes, pears, onions, apricots, cherries, strawberries, dates and head lettuce as a result of a cross-border trucking dispute. The tariffs have since been lifted with the resumption of the pilot trucking program.

LaRussa said if the Commerce Department lifts the suspension agreement, U.S. tomato interests would likely file an anti-dumping case days after.

“Their whole goal in this process is to get a higher degree of protection and to do it in a political year, so that’s what they are doing,” he said.

If the Commerce Department levies anti-dumping duties again, that would have an immediate chilling effect on importers, LaRussa said, because preliminary duties can be set initially at one level but later be raised retroactively by the Commerce Department.



Comments (17) Leave a comment 

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J. Oliver    
Rio Rico AZ  |  September, 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM

Here we go again Most shippers use their large tomatoes business as a front

Dan Torres    
Gonzales Ca.  |  September, 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM

Nice comment J. Oliver you assumption is correct

S Barton    
Rio Rico AZ  |  September, 29, 2012 at 06:21 PM

Right on-we need another suspension agreement we can not compete with Florida-under the table deals

maxell    
Immokalee  |  October, 01, 2012 at 08:59 AM

Hey LaRussa, Economic trumps Political anyday! And keep your undermaintianed trucks over there~

William Genitempo    
Dallas, Texas  |  October, 01, 2012 at 09:32 AM

Part of the U.S. trouble we do not have fair trade Why have The Suspension Agreement cheap tomatoes and scare jobs here don't compute!

William Genitempo    
Dallas, Texas  |  October, 01, 2012 at 09:34 AM

Good no renewel we need fair trade not free trade!

Jimmy    
AIKEN, SC  |  October, 01, 2012 at 09:48 AM

Amen on keeping their trucks at home, Mexican Government with holds water from Texas farmers, and use every means to disrupt our produce farmers, it is high time we took steps that would tighten our fair trade standards, this no backbone government is not really about America and our concerns, if the politicians salary was base on the quality and salary of the new jobs being created, they would be on food stamps too, Food stamps should only be able to be spent on USA products,

Luis Eduardo Muñoz    
Culiacán  |  October, 01, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Muy bien Eric,el uniteralismo en las desiciones tomadas por FUNCIONRIOS del departamento de comercio debe llevarse al más alto nivel.libre comercio no es juego de niños,es PUEDES O NO COMPETIR.

Jim    
Denver  |  October, 01, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Laundering drugs money became a little more difficult but they find a solution.

Hector    
Phoenix AZ  |  October, 01, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Obama does not know who he is messing with. He can have the Florida Vote (16%) but he just lost 48% I hope everyone understands what has happened here. We don't need a POTUS who does not care about Americans and is just interested votes.

Ricardo    
Rio Rico  |  October, 01, 2012 at 02:20 PM

William you need to get the facts right, no agreement means free market, with a working agreement you go to a fair market conditions.

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  October, 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM

No Ricardo. Free Market means no tariffs exist on either side (i.e NAFTA). The Agreement imposed a minimum price on Mexican Tomatoes (a price below which Mexican Tomatoes can not be sold), in order to protect Florida's tomato growers (on the one hand) and insure entry for Mexico's product (on the other). Whether you consider a given set of market conditions to be fair or not depends on what side of the border you´re on, and whether you're a consumer or a Florida Tomato Grower, who's claim of unfair trade is designed to keep prices high. Do lower wages in Mexico constitute unfair trade? Or is it simply the reality of life in Mexico for farm workers? (Why do you think so many go north to work)? Can federal subsidies for US commodities be considered fair trade? Obviously, Florida's Tomato Growers would rather eliminate competition from Mexico any way they can.

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  October, 02, 2012 at 02:55 PM

Evidently you are unaware that tomatoes are the agricultural export that generates the most income for Mexico. And your insinuations display a prejudice that is inappropriate for both this forum and the produce industry.

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  October, 02, 2012 at 03:00 PM

(The above was sent in response to Jim | 103047985)

harvestresponse    
Nogales Az  |  October, 02, 2012 at 04:47 PM

This is what i would propose: Just as Return on investment is the motivator for doing business, the end Consumer interest should be taken into account when discussing the tomato trade, provided that the end consumer is knowledgeable. 1- Retailers, should lower their prices when tomatoes are at minimum and pass on the market savings to the end consumers 2- Prohibit gassed green tomatoes in the marketplace; they are an aberration to the fruit itself, they are abnormal and you need to practice Mediterranean habits in order to make them somewhat usable (olive oil, spices etc) 3- Only vine ripened tomatos should be allowed 4- If a country complies with it's own laws for fair trade employment, if their Agricultural practices are average or above after the proper audits have been documented, that product should be able to be ok in any other country, as long as it passess the intended country's food safety standards. In this case Mexico surpasses any USA GAP's by far. I have seen Florida & Georgia fields and if the consumer made their decision based on what I have seen not one Florida or Georgia tomato would be sold due to the deplorable conditions that these USA tomato farmers do their growing. We can go and look at these fields at any time and see for yourselves what I mean.

Sam    
California  |  October, 02, 2012 at 05:52 PM

Florida tomatoes taste AWFUl, like a mouth full of cardboard. I don't think Florida has the soil conditions to grow a tasty tomato. I would hate to have those tomatoes imposed on me at a higher price to kick it. Sorry can't back the Florida farmer on this one.

Diego Monjardin    
Mexico  |  October, 05, 2012 at 06:17 PM

Jim, your comment about Mexican producers is not sensibly meditated and is out of focus on this panel. You should be more objective and proactive about the theme.

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