Arizona Congressional Delegation Calls For Protection For Farmers From Mexico’s “Unfair” Trade Practices

tomatoes
[Photo courtesy CBP]

Senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, along with Representatives Tom O’Halleran, Raúl M. Grijalva, Andy Biggs, David Schweikert, Ruben Gallego, Debbie Lesko, and Greg Stanton sent a letter to urge U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to reject a new seasonal trade remedy on Mexican tomato imports as the administration works to implement the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“This trade remedy would affect Arizona’s economy, the U.S. agribusiness supply chain, and consumers all across the country who enjoy a diverse selection of tomatoes at low prices,” the Senators wrote. ”As Senators who support free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and its trading partners around the globe, we strongly oppose any new agriculture seasonality provision targeting Mexican tomato imports. Such a provision would run counter to consumer preferences, undermine the spirit and benefits of free trade, risk reciprocal or retaliatory actions from our trade partners, and harm U.S. industries in order to artificially support a small segment of regional growers’ interests.”

“Cross-border trade supports Arizona jobs and lowers food prices for Arizonans working to feed their families during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.

The bipartisan letter stresses that a seasonal trade restriction would reduce a critical supply of imported tomatoes, resulting in higher prices, while reducing availability, selection, and quality for Arizona consumers.

The delegation argues that implementing a seasonal trade restriction would be particularly harmful as Arizona and the nation combat the COVID-19 crisis while millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table.

Letter in its entirety:

We write today to urge you to consider the broad impacts of a new seasonal trade remedy on Mexican tomato imports. This trade remedy would affect Arizona’s economy, the U.S. agribusiness supply chain, and consumers all across the country who enjoy a diverse selection of tomatoes at low prices. Upcoming virtual hearings on August 13th and 20th to consider trade remedies in response to allegedly distortionary Mexican trade policies risk undermining the spirit of free trade championed by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and further addressed by the adoption of a new Tomato Suspension Agreement in 2019.

As you are aware a “seasonality” provision, whereby certain Mexican tomatoes could be subjected to additional dumping duties at various times throughout the year, would affect jobs and economic development in Arizona. A University of Arizona study shows that Mexican tomato imports support 33,000 U.S. jobs. Agribusiness supply chains derived from these imported tomatoes account for nearly $3 billion in U.S. gross domestic product.

Consumers in the U.S. currently enjoy the lowest food costs in the world, with just 6.4 percent of U.S. income going toward food. Some fresh fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, however, are simply not available in sufficient volume from the U.S. in certain months. U.S. companies have found significant value in working with farms in Mexico to produce and export products that contribute to healthful eating habits for U.S. consumers. A seasonal trade remedy would choke off a critical supply of imported tomatoes, resulting in higher prices for U.S. consumers while reducing availability, selection, and quality in supermarket aisles. This would be particularly harmful at a time when our nation continues to combat the COVID-19 crisis and when millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table.

As supporters of free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and its trading partners around the globe, we strongly oppose any new agriculture seasonality provision targeting Mexican tomato imports. Such a provision would run counter to consumer preferences, undermine the spirit and benefits of free trade, risk reciprocal or retaliatory actions from our trade partners, and harm U.S. industries in order to artificially support a small segment of regional growers’ interests. We encourage the Administration to consider these positions during the upcoming August hearings.

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