Make us your home page
Instagram

U.S. ends Mexican tomato price pact, raising trade war risk

Mexico exported $2.1 billion worth of tomatoes last year and 93 percent went to the United States. The decision to end the pact will let American growers seek duties on Mexican tomatoes, which may spark a trade war, a produce association says.

New York Times (2011)

Mexico exported $2.1 billion worth of tomatoes last year and 93 percent went to the United States. The decision to end the pact will let American growers seek duties on Mexican tomatoes, which may spark a trade war, a produce association says.

WASHINGTON — The United States is ending an accord that for 16 years set prices for Mexican tomato imports, siding with Florida farmers over the objections of Mexico's government and produce buyers who warned of a trade war without the agreement.

Florida tomato farmers joined by colleagues in other states said the 1996 deal, adopted in place of an antidumping investigation, is outdated and ineffective. Buyers of tomatoes such as Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer, wanted to keep it in place, saying it promotes price stability.

The Commerce Department issued a preliminary decision to end the pact. The step will let American growers seek duties on Mexican tomatoes, which may spark a trade war, according to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. The Nogales, Ariz., importers group said this month that the dispute was driven by election-year politics, a claim U.S. growers denied.

"The decisionmaking process certainly seems one-sided, and seems to be dictated by politics rather than policy," Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's ambassador to the United States, said Thursday in an emailed statement.

The dispute reopens a rift between the United States and its third-largest trading partner. The United States last year imported $8.5 billion in agriculture and livestock goods from Mexico, more than any other nation, according to the Commerce Department. The United States sent $8.7 billion of those products to Mexico.

Mexico exported $2.1 billion worth of tomatoes last year, 93 percent to the United States, the Agriculture Ministry said.

The Commerce Department said it will close its investigation into whether Mexican tomatoes were sold in the U.S. market below cost, an inquiry that was suspended when the pricing agreement was adopted. Ending the investigation terminates the pricing agreement, the agency said in memo on its preliminary findings. A final decision is due in nine months, the agency said.

Mexico's ambassador cited a 17-year conflict with the United States over cross-border trucking, in which Mexico imposed tariffs on $2.4 billion of American goods, to show the nation is prepared to challenge the U.S. decision.

"Mexico will respond: You should ask those who were in the Mexican crosshairs over the trucking dispute," Sarukhan said. "When Mexico aims, Mexico hits the target."

The tariffs were lifted last year after a Mexican trucking company won a cross-border permit.

The U.S. decision is "welcome news to domestic growers and the workers who have suffered under an outdated and failed agreement," Reggie Brown, executive director of the Florida Tomato Exchange, a growers' group, said Thursday in a statement. "The domestic industry has jumped through every hoop put in our path by our opponents who simply want to protect the sweetheart deal that they've enjoyed for far too long."

U.S. ends Mexican tomato price pact, raising trade war risk 09/27/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Bloomberg News.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alison Barlow named director to spur creative economy, jobs of St. Pete Innovation District

    Economic Development

    After an extensive search, the recently created St. Pete Innovation District now has its first executive director. Alison Barlow on Thursday was named to the position in which she will help recruit and facilitate a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns …

    Alison Barlow has been named the first executive director of the recently created St. Pete Innovation District, a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Poynter Institute to SRI International and the USF College of Marine Science, among many other organizations. Barlow, who most recently served as manager of the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, starts her new job June 16.[Photo courtesy of LinkedIn]
  2. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  3. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  4. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals

    Business

    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.
  5. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting

    Wildlife

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]