McSally commends new U.S. tomato suspension agreement with Mexico

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who has been pushing the Trump administration to renegotiate a tomato suspension agreement, will finally see results now that the U.S. Commerce Department has settled a tomato trade dispute with Mexico. 

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said it initialed a draft agreement with Mexican tomato growers to suspend the ongoing antidumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, “ensuring that the domestic tomato industry will be protected from unfair trade.”

“This new agreement will protect Arizona companies from paying an astronomical price to ship tomatoes and will most importantly, keep Arizonans employed,” Sen. McSally said. “This goes a long way to safeguard affordable prices for families at the grocery store and maintain our strong cross-border commerce.”

The U.S. every year imports more than 1.5 billion pounds of tomatoes from Mexico with an estimated value of close to $2 billion.

The many years of trade disputes over these Mexican-imported tomatoes led the Commerce Department to terminate an earlier suspension agreement and continue an investigation that could have increased duties of 25 percent for most Mexican tomato producers, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in an Aug. 21 statement. 

“After intensive discussions with all parties, we initialed a new draft suspension agreement with the Mexican growers … [that] meets the needs of both sides and avoids the need for antidumping duties,” he said. 

Most recently, Sen. McSally, joined by U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), sent an Aug. 13 bipartisan letter to Secretary Ross expressing concerns about provisions in the Commerce Department’s tomato suspension agreement.

“Imposing unnecessary costs and burdens on the fresh produce trade hurts the economy of Arizona and eliminates jobs in the state,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge the Department to keep this in mind as it considers a new Tomato Suspension Agreement.”

The new agreement has enforcement provisions that eliminate the damaging effects of Mexican tomatoes, as well as price suppression and undercutting, according to the Commerce Department.