Avoid tomato trade war - The Packer

Avoid tomato trade war

08/31/2012 09:38:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

During their recent meeting, members of AMHPAC (which represents Mexico’s protected agriculture sector, including tomatoes) approved a grower assessment to raise funds for a legal fight.

That’s understandable — and a bit depressing.

Mexican growers and U.S. importers feel they need to be prepared for a trade fight, as Florida tomato producers convinced the U.S. Commerce Department to consider the antidumping suspension agreement on fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico.

That AMHPAC assessment money would be better spent on marketing campaigns, facility improvement or numerous other actions that would improve producer returns and deliver a better product to the market.

The biggest losers in a trade war are consumers.

The only real winners are lawyers — and there would be plenty on collateral damage to the tomato industries on both sides of the border.

The U.S. commerce officials’ comment period is scheduled to end this week.

They would be wise to carefully consider the fallout — including the real threat of Mexico slapping tariffs on U.S. fresh produce and other exports — before they choose their path on the suspension agreement.

Florida tomato producers feel they’re subjected to unfair trade practices by Mexican growers. Importers say terminating the agreement and refiling an anti-dumping investigation would limit their ability to bring their tomatoes to market.

If both sides are being sincere, they’re asking for a level playing field where consumers have access to both groups’ product without market distortions.

That’s the Commerce Department’s task, and it should do it quickly.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.



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