US, Mexico reach deal on tomato prices

WASHINGTON: The US government and Mexican tomato growers on Saturday agreed to revive a 17-year-old pact governing prices for the goods, potentially reducing the threat of a costly trade war stemming from a US decision last year to withdraw from a 1996 bilateral tomato trade pact.

“I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement on fresh tomato imports from Mexico that restores stability and confidence to the U.S. tomato market and meets the requirements of U.S. law,” Francisco Sanchez, US Commerce Department’s undersecretary for international trade, said in a statement.

The draft agreement, signed yesterday, substantially raises the minimum “reference” price at which Mexican plum, cherry and other tomatoes can be sold in the US and accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato market since the original agreement, Sanchez said.

The US Commerce Department in September issued a preliminary decision to end the 1996 tomato agreement after Florida growers complained that the arrangement no longer protected them against Mexican tomatoes sold below the cost of production. That angered Mexican growers, who argued the pact had benefited US consumers and brought stability to the North American market.

DND

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