The United States and Mexico have reached a deal to avoid a tomato anti-dumping investigation, ending a tense tariff dispute that had lingered for months.
The deal was first announced by Mexico’s Economy Minister Graciela Marquez on Twitter just before midnight August 20, according to Reuters.
“This result is good news as it will keep the market open for our tomato exports to the United States,” Marquez tweeted.
The new deal also lifts a 17.6 percent provisional tariff against tomato imports from Mexico, which went into effect in May.
The agreement also calls for inspections of 92 percent of Mexican tomato trucks at the border. American growers – led by the Florida Tomato Exchange – had demanded that 100 percent of tomato imports from Mexico be reviewed for “quality control,” which Mexican growers had argued was logistically impossible.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said the new agreement will ensure “that the domestic tomato industry will be protected from unfair trade.”
“For many years, there have been disputes over the roughly $2 billion of tomatoes that are imported from Mexico annually,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement. “The [new] agreement has enforcement provisions that completely eliminate the injurious effects of Mexican tomatoes, as well as price suppression and undercutting.”
The deal also includes raising the reference price of specialty tomatoes, and an increase of 40 percent in the price of organic tomatoes above that of conventional ones, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
A deal had to be reached by the evening of August 20 to allow for a 30-day comment period before a September 19 Commerce Department deadline for completing its anti-dumping investigation.
The new agreement will benefit tomato growers in Arizona, Florida, Texas and other states, according to the Commerce Department.
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 $2 billion annually.