Should the U.S. terminate the Tomato Suspension Agreement with Mexico? The agreement is intended to keep Mexico from flooding the U.S. market with underpriced tomatoes by suspending duties, however, some industry leaders say it’s not working, and the agreement needs to be terminated so Mexico can be held accountable. Others worry that terminating the agreement and making Mexico pay duties or fines for these tomatoes will lead to that nation sending us less product. The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), which is an association of businesses that import produce from Mexico, is against terminating the agreement.
“What it would have the practical impact of doing is putting duties of about twenty-point-nine percent on most Mexican tomatoes coming in the United States,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “There’s a lot of companies that are involved in the imports of Mexican tomatoes and they play a huge role in the US economy just as much as the growers in the southeast who are growing tomatoes.”
The Florida Tomato Exchange is the organization that filed the termination request with the Department of Commerce. Executive Vice President Michael Schadler says the agreement simply doesn’t work and prevents Mexico from facing any retribution for dumping.
“That’s always been a problem from our perspective that these agreements just simply don’t work for the fresh produce trade. It’s too hard to enforce. It’s too hard to monitor and we just simply believe that they haven’t worked,” he said and mentioned a 2019 investigation into Mexican dumping of tomatoes. “The Trade Commission found that dumping had continued even with those suspension agreements in place and found that the US industry had been injured but almost simultaneously, a new suspension agreement was negotiated and established, which then suspended the resulting dumping duties from going into effect.
While the previous agreements suspended the investigation into possible dumping, the 2019 agreement suspended a dumping order and dumping duties from going into effect. Schadler said the current agreement “has not been enforceable” and leaves Mexico free to flood the U.S. market with tomatoes without consequence. Jungmeyer maintains that there has not been proof of dumping from Mexico in recent years, and therefore the agreement should stand as is. The tomato suspension agreement was first signed in 1996 and last updated in 2019.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.