U.S. Commerce Tomato Decision Could Hurt Nogales

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 7:16pm
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The U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to resume an investigation into dumping of Mexican tomatoes into the U.S. market could hurt the produce import business, according to a Southern Arizona produce import industry representative.

The 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico sets a price floor for imported Mexican tomatoes. It also suspends an anti-dumping investigation that dates back to the mid-1990s.

With the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, that investigation will resume in early May. And if the department determines that Mexican growers are dumping tomatoes, duties could be imposed.

“Essentially we would have higher prices at the grocery stores, higher prices that restaurants would have to pay,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales, Arizona-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, which represents importers and growers of Mexican fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes are the most valuable import in Nogales, and seasonal import employment could take a big hit if a new agreement isn’t reached, Jungmeyer argued.

Florida growers asked for the agreement to be ended in November, arguing that it has too many loopholes and has acted as “cover for continued dumping,” according to a release from the Florida Tomato Exchange.

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