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US, Mexico End Tomato Trade War

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US, Mexico End Tomato Trade War

US, Mexico End Tomato Trade War

The U.S. Commerce Department ended a tense negotiation with Mexico over the price of its tomatoes imported to the United States this past weekend. Imports will continue, but be prepared to pay more for them.

The proposed agreement came late Saturday night. It prevents a potential trade war between the U.S. and Mexico. It calls for more stringent enforcement of existing pricing laws and it raises the minimum sales floor price of imported Mexican tomatoes by at least 30 percent.

Lance Jungemeyer chairs the Fresh Produce Association in Nogales, Ariz. The trade group manages the imports for tomatoes coming up from Mexico.

"I think people are happy that they’re not being shut out of business but they’re not happy about the way business looks in the future," he said.

For example, winter tomato prices, up to 30 from 22 cents a pound, can steer companies like major restaurants and grocery stores away from imports and into the domestic market.

Florida growers had prompted the scrutiny of Mexican prices last summer, saying Mexico undercut their own prices.

Mexico may soon be making the same argument in the coming weeks. A public comment period on the proposed agreement will continue through mid-February. The plan would take effect in March.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.