With talks between Mexican and U.S. tomato growers still alive to resolve escalated trade tensions, the U.S. government is initiating a review of the existing suspension agreement.
The sunset review by the U.S. International Trade Commission was publicized in the Dec. 3 Federal Register, but the date was set years ago as part of the agreement’s five-year review, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
“That is something that we expected to happen,” Jungmeyer said.
The deadline for comments to the commission is Jan. 2.
The sunset review is separate from ongoing negotiations to resolve issues with the current tomato suspension agreement. Talks between Mexican growers and U.S. interests are confidential, but Jungmeyer said parties close to the negotiations are hopeful for a resolution.
“Certainly our hope is that the two sides can come to an agreement and that the agreement will continue,” Jungmeyer said. “We think that is the best thing for the growth of this tomato category for retailers to have access to a wide variety and volume of tomatoes,” he said.
This summer, the Florida Tomato Exchange cited unfair trade practices and requested the U.S. end the tomato suspension agreement with Mexico.
In August, the Department of Commerce said it would take comments on the request. The agreement has governed the price of imported Mexican tomatoes since 1996.
The department announced a preliminary decision Sept. 27 to terminate the suspended anti-dumping investigation, effectively killing the 16-year-old suspension agreement.
The Department of Commerce must announce a final decision by late April but could move sooner.