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Rubio, Costa, Colleagues Urge Commerce to Defend American Tomato Industry
Mexican tomato exporters are conducting unfair trade practices and dumping tomatoes into the U.S. market, despite the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement. This is forcing American tomato farmers out of business and destroying the domestic tomato industry.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging the department to terminate the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement with Mexico and defend the American tomato industry.
- “The Commerce Department has already documented more than a hundred violations of the 2019 Suspension Agreement, including continued dumping. The Suspension Agreement is not working, and as it cannot be modified to work under existing law, antidumping duties must be imposed to sufficiently remedy ongoing injury to the domestic tomato industry.
- “Immediate termination of the 2019 Suspension Agreement and imposition of antidumping duties is necessary to stop the destruction of the American tomato industry by unfairly traded Mexican tomatoes.”
Joining Rubio and Costa were Senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Katie Britt (R-AL), and U.S. Representatives Kat Cammack (R-FL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), John Duarte (R-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Greg Steube (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Josh Harder (D-CA), Barry Moore (R-AL), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Bruce Westerman (R-AK), Mike Waltz (R-FL), Maria Salazar (R-FL), John Moolenar (R-MI), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Bill Posey (R-FL), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Tim Walberg (R-MI), David Valadao (R-CA), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Darren Soto (D-FL), John Rose (R-TN), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Austin Scott (R-GA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Thomas Kean (R-NJ), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Ben Cline (R-VA), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), Carbajal (D-CA), Chuck Edwards(R-NC), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Danny Davis (D-NC), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Cory Mills (R-FL), Joe Wilson (D-FL), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA), and Drew Ferguson (R-GA).
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Secretary Raimondo:
We write to request the immediate termination of the 2019 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico (“Suspension Agreement”) and to urge you to impose antidumping duties on imports of unfairly traded Mexican tomatoes as required by law.
Despite the good faith efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce to enforce the 2019 Suspension Agreement, Mexican tomato exporters are using the Suspension Agreement as a cover to conduct unfair trade practices, which are destroying the domestic tomato industry. The Commerce Department has already documented over a hundred violations of the 2019 Suspension Agreement, including continued dumping. The Suspension Agreement is not working and cannot be modified to work under existing law, so antidumping duties must be imposed to sufficiently remedy ongoing injury to the domestic tomato industry.
According to U.S. Census and USDA data, in 1994, Mexican imports accounted for about 20 percent of the U.S. market. Since then, the volume of tomato imports from Mexico has increased 380 percent, and hundreds of American tomato farmers have been forced out of business despite successive suspension agreements with Mexico. In 2022, Mexican tomatoes accounted for about 70 percent of the U.S. market, and despite an active suspension agreement, the volume of Mexican imports has increased by about 9 percent since 2019. Small family operations have been hit particularly hard, and the impacts have been profoundly damaging to rural economies. After 27 years, it is clear that the loopholes in the suspension agreements being exploited by Mexican producers cannot be closed, and the domestic industry will face further material injury if the necessary actions are not taken.
In October 2019, the Commerce Department determined that Mexican tomatoes were being dumped with margins as high as 30.48 percent; and in November 2019, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determined the domestic fresh tomato industry is materially injured by dumped Mexican tomatoes, affirming the domestic industry’s access to trade relief in the event of a failure of the Suspension Agreement. Due to the failure of the Suspension Agreement to prevent unfair trade practices, the domestic industry must now be allowed to access the trade remedies prescribed by the ITC.
Immediate termination of the 2019 Suspension Agreement and imposition of antidumping duties is necessary to stop the destruction of the American tomato industry by unfairly traded Mexican tomatoes. We urge you to take these actions without delay.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.