( File photo )

The Department of Commerce, acting on a request by U.S. tomato growers, is continuing its investigation into the dumping of Mexican tomatoes into the U.S.

At the same time, the department issued a decision to set a dumping margin of 21% in the resumed investigation, according to the Florida Tomato Exchange.

The Sept. 19 agreement signed by the Commerce Department and Mexican tomato growers remains “in force” pending a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission and no antidumping duties will be imposed by the Commerce Department Oct. 21 decision, according to a news release from the department.

“At the request of domestic producers, the department is completing the investigation into imports of Mexican fresh tomatoes,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in the release. “Now it is up to the International Trade Commission to determine whether dumped imports harm the American tomato industry – and whether, as a consequence, the suspension agreement will remain in place.”

When a suspension agreement is in place, “interested parties” can ask the Commerce Department to restart the suspended antidumping investigation, according to the department, as the Florida Tomato Exchange did on Oct. 11, according to the release. Red Sun Farms submitted its own request on Oct. 15.

The Commerce Department is directing Customs and Border Protection “to lift suspension of liquidation and to return importers’ cash deposits,” the 17.56% duty Mexican tomato imports following the department’s May decision to drop the suspension agreement.

The International Trade Commission will have a hearing on Oct. 24 to evaluate the extent to which dumped tomatoes affected U.S. growers, according to a Florida Tomato Exchange release. Commerce’s final dumping margin of 21%, according to the tomato exchange, “comes as no surprise to American tomato farmers who have seen domestic production decline significantly in the face of unfairly traded Mexican imports.”

The U.S. tomato industry welcomes its opportunity to present its case to the International Trade Commission, according to the tomato exchange release.

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