U.S. tomato importers face hundreds of millions of dollars in duties if the U.S. Dept. of Commerce withdraws from the Tomato Suspension Agreement, according to a March 6, 2019 statement by the Border Trade Alliance (BTA).
The BTA, which is leading the coalition of concerned business, industry and government partners, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Feb. 27, 2019 in response to last month’s announcement by the Commerce Department that the U.S. would exit the agreement by May 7. If that happens, importers would begin facing hundreds of millions of dollars in duties.
“This letter sends the message loud and clear that the business community and affected local governments believe that withdrawing from the agreement that has governed cross-border tomato trade with Mexico since 2013 risks tremendous harm to the U.S. economy,” BTA Chair Paola Avila said.
The letter to Commerce references a recent University of Arizona study that finds tomato imports are responsible for more than 30,000 U.S. jobs and nearly $3 billion in U.S. GDP.
“There are too many jobs and too much economic activity connected to the tomato trade to sacrifice them for certain regional agricultural interests’ attempts to tilt the rules of trade in their favour,” BTA president Britton Clarke said. “Withdrawing from the Tomato Suspension Agreement could not only lead to retaliation from one of our leading trade partners, but could also complicate ongoing efforts to adopt the USMCA.”
For more background and another viewpoint, read the opinion editorial by Michael Schadler, executive vice-president of the Florida Tomato Exchange at https://bit.ly/2EInlkc
The full letter from the Border Trade Alliance to the Department of Commerce is available here.
Source: Border Trade Alliance website statement, March 6, 2019