May 7 (UPI) — The United States withdrew from a deal facilitating the duty-free import of Mexican tomatoes on Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced.
The United States will place a 17.5 percent tariff on imports of Mexican tomatoes with the termination of the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico.
The Commerce Department notified Mexican signatories of its intent to withdraw from the agreement on Feb. 6 after representatives from the U.S. tomato industry requested that the agency terminate the deal Nov. 14.
“The Department of Commerce remains committed to ensuring that American domestic industries are protected from unfair trading practices,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “We remain optimistic that there will be a negotiated solution.”
The Florida Tomato Excahange requested the termination of the agreement, stating it was unenforceable and imports of Mexican tomatoes were harming U.S. producers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Mexican Economy Ministry said it was “disappointed and concerned” by the United States’ decision to terminate the agreement.
“This will imply an annual cost of more than $ 350 million for Mexican tomato exporters and it’s expected that many small and mid-sized exporters won’t be able to handle this heavy financial burden,” the ministry said.
Both sides began negotiating a new deal in January and the Commerce Department ordered Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits or bonds that will be refunded if a new agreement is reached or the International Trade Commission determines there is no injury.