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New U.S.-Mexico deal avoids tariffs on tomatoes

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Aug. 21 (UPI) — The United States and Mexico have reached a deal to avoid a 25 percent tariff on imports of Mexican tomatoes, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Wednesday.

The agreement halts an anti-dumping investigation after Mexico was accused of selling low-quality tomatoes in the United States for low prices, a practice harmful to domestic growers. The results of that investigation could have raised tariffs on the produce from 17.5 percent to 25 percent.

The Commerce Department says Mexico exports an estimated $2 billion worth of tomatoes to the United States each year.

“After intensive discussions with all parties, we initialed a new draft suspension agreement with the Mexican growers late last night. This draft agreement meets the needs of both sides and avoids the need for anti-dumping duties,” Ross said.

Under the draft agreement, officials set varied prices for certain types of tomatoes, with organic tomatoes priced 40 percent higher than conventional. It also closes loopholes allowing sales below these prices.

The terms include inspections to prevent low-quality tomatoes from being shipped to the United States and audits of up to 80 Mexican tomato growers each year.

The United States placed the 17.5 percent tariff on Mexican tomatoes in May with the termination of the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico. The Florida Tomato Exchange requested the agreement be terminated, stating it was unenforceable and imports of Mexican tomatoes were harming U.S. producers.

The draft agreement could be signed and made final on Sept. 19.

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