Trade associations representing most of the tomato growers in Mexico applauded the stance of the chairman of a key Mexican Senate committee today, who said a failure to agree to a new and fair Tomato Suspension Agreement could slow down approval of the USMCA in Mexico and threaten bilateral trade in agriculture.
The chairman of the Mexican Senate commission in charge of approval of the USMCA warned in a letter to his counterparts in the U.S. Congress that linked completion of a fair Mexican Tomatoes Suspension Agreement with his country's approval of the USMCA. The letter was sent to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
"We also understand that this termination had political reasons behind it, due to the demands of some Florida farmers and their representatives in Congress. We realize, thus, that the Department of Commerce is seeking to replace this agreement with a new one, which will basically stop tomato shipments from Mexico to your country. If these intentions become a reality, they could generate enormous difficulties for our country, because they would represent an obstacle for the ratification of the USMCA by our country. The Mexican tomato industry represents $2 billion dollars in exports to the U.S. and is responsible for generating 400,000 direct jobs and one million indirect jobs in Mexico. We must point out that most of these jobs are filled by a vulnerable sector that would otherwise see immigration as an option," said Senator Gustavo Madero, chairman of the Economics Commission of the Mexican Senate.
The letter went on to state that the chairman feared this could have broader ramifications for two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico, noting: "We state, additionally, that bilateral trade in the agricultural sector has been a success story for both nations under NAFTA. We would like to point out that Mexico is an essential market for U.S. farmers who grow corn, soybeans, apples, wheat, among others. If what has become a problem for us continues to exist, it could lead to devastating repercussions for the trade of both countries."
Rosario Beltran, president of two Mexican growers associations, thanked the senator and reiterated that the Mexican growers continue to negotiate in good faith with the Commerce Department for a new agreement, but that thus far the proposals from Commerce would have a devastating impact on Mexican exports to the U.S. market. "We have always said we prefer an agreement, but that it must be fair," said Beltran. "Otherwise we have no option but go to the International Trade Commission and prove that we are not injuring the Florida growers. That will result in an open tomatoes market in the United States for the first time in 23 years."