With the U.S. Commerce Department pulling the plug on an agreement with Mexican tomato growers, two Florida Republicans are declaring victory.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee rounded up more than 45 members of Congress to sign a letter to U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross to end the agreement, insisting it “has allowed unfair competition to increasingly put U.S. tomato growers out of business” and “terminating the current agreement would restart a U.S. antidumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico while giving Commerce more leverage to try to secure a new suspension agreement that is both effective and enforceable.”
The Florida delegation offered strong support for Rubio and Yoho with Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson and Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Ross Spano, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Dan Webster signing on.
The Commerce Department announced this week that it will withdraw from the agreement by May 7.
“Upon completion of the withdrawal, the Department of Commerce will continue with its investigation and notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its final determination. If the Department continues to find sales made at less than fair value in its final determination, the ITC will then complete its own investigation and make a final determination with respect to injury. If both Commerce and the ITC issue affirmative final determinations, an antidumping duty order will be issued,” the Commerce Department noted.
“I applaud Secretary Ross and his team at the Department of Commerce for sending a strong message that the U.S. will ensure vigilant enforcement of our existing trade laws and trade agreements,” said Rubio on Thursday. “Fairly traded imports can and do enrich Americans’ lives, but we must be clear with our trade partners that unfair trade practices that threaten American livelihoods will not be tolerated. During the ninety day notice period, I urge the Department to carefully monitor Mexican tomato imports and to take action to terminate the agreement prior to May 7th should such action be warranted. I thank Representative Yoho for his leadership and support to ensure the U.S. tomato industry does not continue to suffer from unfair competition.”
“I applaud the Commerce Department’s swift action on behalf of our nation’s tomato producers,” said Yoho. “The decision to withdraw from the flawed 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico is the right thing to do for our Florida producers. This announcement opens the door for both countries to negotiate a new agreement that is mutually beneficial to both countries. I want to thank Senator Rubio for his leadership and support on this issue and to all members of Congress who joined the collective effort to level the playing field for America’s tomato producers.”