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New fresh tomato deal between U.S. and Mexico


February 4, 2013
By Dave Harrison

Feb. 4, 2013 — U.S. tomato growers are tentatively supporting a new
agreement covering fresh tomatoes imported into the U.S. from Mexico.

Feb. 4, 2013 — U.S. tomato growers are tentatively supporting a new agreement covering fresh tomatoes imported into the U.S. from Mexico.

In June 2012, tomato producers from throughout the U.S. filed a request to withdraw the 16-year-old anti-dumping petition and have the existing suspension agreement covering fresh tomato exports from Mexico terminated. Their effort was designed to ensure a fair and transparent market as U.S. law provides.

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After extensive consultations with the U.S. Department of Commerce, domestic tomato growers have indicated tentative support for the revisions negotiated by the U.S. government and Mexican growers.

After being briefed on the tentative agreement, the Florida Tomato Exchange and Certified Greenhouse Farmers released the following statement:

The U.S. government has “initialed an agreement with Mexican growers that they believe will address unfair trade in fresh tomatoes,” said Reggie Brown, executive vice-president of the Florida Tomato Exchange. “The existing suspension agreement had serious flaws and injury was being felt by U.S. producers and their workers.”

U.S. grower groups said Mexican tomatoes were being sold in the U.S. market in rapidly increasing volumes at prices that did not reflect the cost of production.

“In technical trade jargon, that’s known as “dumping” and is illegal under U.S. and Mexican trade laws and the suspension agreement that Mexican producers had signed with the U.S. Department of Commerce,” said Brown. “The public understands its real impact which has been declining production and employment, the bankruptcy of growers and community devastation.”

Edward Beckman, president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers, said that “the law entitles our industry to fair conditions of trade in fresh tomatoes. That’s been the simple goal of this effort.

“In the 16 years since the first suspension agreement was imposed upon domestic producers, the industry has changed dramatically but the suspension agreement has failed to change with the times as technology and growing methods have changed. The agreement has not even kept up with inflation.”

During the negotiations between the Department of Commerce and Mexico and their growers, three essential components to any new agreement to bring about fair trade were identified: pricing, coverage and enforcement.

Beckman said the CGF is "hopeful and optimistic that we’ll be able to compete under fair trade conditions. Much work remains to have the agreement fully and faithfully implemented and continuous monitoring and enforcement will be critical.”


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