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 A Federal Register notice by U.S. Customs and Border Protection raises the possibility that growers of tomatoes in Florida and other U.S. states stand to receive some of the proceeds of the 17.56% anti-dumping duties paid by U.S. importers of Mexican tomatoes. 

In a May 31 notice in the Federal Register, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it intends to distribute fiscal year 2019 assessed anti-dumping/countervailing duties for a number of commodities to affected domestic producers. The document lists dozens of imported commodities subject to duties, including those for fresh tomatoes from Mexico.

However, industry sources could not say if domestic tomato growers would ever receive any “subsidy or anti-dumping offsets” from the duty on Mexican tomatoes. Any distribution to U.S. tomato growers is unlikely anytime soon, industry sources speculated.

“This would only be relevant if a dumping order goes into effect,” Michael Schadler, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange. “The current tomato duty is a preliminary duty while the anti-dumping investigation is completed. The investigation will run through the summer unless there’s a new suspension agreement.”

There were reports on June 3 that the Commerce Department made another proposal to Mexican growers for a  suspension agreement, but no details of that proposal were available.

G.B. Crawford, director of public relations for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, said June 3 it may take some time to determine if growers are eligible to receive payments under the dumping and subsidy offset distributions.

“We have to wait and see,” he said. “As in many instances with federal policy, implementation is yet to be seen.”

In the Federal Register document, the Customs and Border Protection said that domestic petitioners/supporters of the dumping and subsidy offset for tomatoes were:

  •  Accomack County (Va.) Farm Bureau;
  •  Ad Hoc Group of Florida, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia tomato growers;
  •  Florida Farm Bureau Federation;
  •  Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association;
  •  Florida Tomato Growers Exchange;
  •  Gadsden County (Fla.) Tomato Growers Association; and 
  •  South Carolina Tomato Association.

NAFTA eligible?

In the Federal Register notice, the CPB also said it cannot distribute funds from duties applied to goods from NAFTA countries.

“It should also be noted that the Federal Circuit ruled in Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance v. United States, 517 F.3d 1319 that CBP was not authorized to distribute such anti-dumping and countervailing duties to the extent they were derived from goods from countries that are parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement,” the notice said. “Due to this decision, CBP does not list cases related to NAFTA on the Preliminary Amounts Available report, and no distributions will be issued on these cases.”

Submitted by Russell Costanza on Tue, 06/04/2019 - 18:17

So what use will the collected tariffs go to? And better yet, will the monies be put in escrow and possibly returned to Mexico?