12 | NOV | 2019
Mexico and the U.S. reach deal on tomato exports
There 1.5 million tomato growers in Mexico – Photo: Adrián Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexico and the U.S. reach deal on tomato exports

Mexico City
Dave Graham, Sharay Angulo, Toby Chopra, David Shepardson & Chizu Nomiyama/REUTERS
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The deal for Mexican tomatoes exports to the U.S., which are worth around USD $2 billion annually, sets minimum prices for the product, and includes a brand-new inspection mechanism on 92% of exports for quality control purposes

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Mexican tomato producers have reached a deal with the U.S. government to avoid an anti-dumping investigation, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Wednesday, ending a testy tariff dispute that had rumbled on for months.

Under the deal, the vast majority of Mexican tomato exports will be subject to border inspections. Still, the accord provides a measure of relief to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in his dealings with the Trump administration.

In May, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a 17.5% tariff on Mexican tomatoes after the two sides failed to renew an earlier agreement that halted a U.S. anti-dumping probe. Since then, the two sides have held negotiations in search of a deal.

Calling the outcome of talks “good news” that kept the U.S. market open for tomato exporters, Marquez said on Twitter that the accord between the U.S. Commerce Department and Mexican producers had been reached shortly before midnight on August 20.

A deal needed to be reached by Tuesday night to allow for a 30-day comment period before a September 19 Commerce Department deadline for completing its anti-dumping investigation.


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In a joint statement, several Mexican agricultural associations, including the SPTN tomato producers group, said the accord included a “controversial proposal” to carry out border inspections on 92% of exports for quality control purposes.

The draft agreement sets minimum prices for tomatoes and “closes loopholes from past suspension agreements that permitted sales below” those prices and a brand-new inspection mechanism to prevent the importation of low-quality Mexican tomatoes, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

The deal also envisaged raising the reference price of specialty tomatoes, and an increase of 40% in the price of organic tomatoes above that of conventional ones, it said.

Relations between President López Obrador and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump have been strained over trade and immigration. However, the origins of the tomato spat predate the New York real estate magnate’s time in the White House.

The current tomato agreement faces its next so-called “sunset review” by September 2024, the statement added.

According to the Mexican government, there are some 1.5 million tomato growers in Mexico, and exports of the product to the United States are worth around USD $2 billion annually.


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