Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz., said the importing community in Nogales was shocked about the decision, which the group said was possibly motivated by political interests in favor of the Obama administration.
The Department of Commerce announced a preliminary decision Sept. 27 to terminate the suspended anti-dumping investigation, effectively killing the 16-year-old suspension agreement.
“Our preference would have been for a final ruling as opposed to a preliminary ruling, but we appreciate the challenge the Commerce had in sorting through the various filings that have come forward,” said Reggie Brown, vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, Maitland.
Mexico warns of possible trade war
By Coral Beach, Staff Writer
Verbal volleys continue in the conflict about the 16-year-old Mexican tomato suspension agreement, with both sides promising to pull out the big guns.
“Mexico will respond. You should ask those who were in the Mexican crosshairs over the trucking dispute. When Mexico aims, Mexico hits the target,” said Auturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S.
Sarukhan issued the warning of a trade war to U.S. media after the Department of Commerce said Sept. 27 it might end the trade agreement, which set a floor price for Mexican tomato imports after an anti-dumping investigation.
His reference to retaliatory tariffs concerns a cross-border trucking program dispute that included duties on U.S. products including table grapes, potatoes and apples. U.S. supporters of the tomato agreement have said they fear Mexico would reestablish those tariffs if the suspension agreement is terminated.
The Department of Commerce made its intentions official Oct. 2 by publishing a notice of intent to terminate the tomato deal in the Federal Register. The department has nine months before it must make a final decision.
Greenhouse growers enter U.S.-Mexico tomato dispute
By Tom Karst, National Editor
Another front has been opened in the conflict between U.S. and Mexican tomato producers.
In the midst of uncertainty over the fate of the suspension agreement between Mexican growers and Florida, there is a proposal from California to more tightly define greenhouse tomatoes and other produce, creating marketing restrictions on vegetables grown in shadehouses and other “protected agriculture” environments in Mexico.
Imports of greenhouse tomatoes from Mexico have risen sharply in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About one-quarter of the 949,000 metric tons of Mexican tomatoes imported into the U.S. in 2007 were labeled greenhouse grown. In 2011, that number was 39% of 1.32 million metric tons.