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November 01, 2019

Arizona congressional delegation advocates duty-free tomato imports

The Arizona congressional delegation is once again working to ensure that fresh tomatoes from Mexico can be imported into the United States duty-free.

U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally and U.S. Reps. David Schweikert, R-Fountain Hills, and Tom O’Halleran, D-Casa Grande, sent a letter to U.S. International Trade Commission Secretary Lisa Barton underscoring the importance of international produce trade to Arizona’s economy.

The USITC is in its final phase of an investigation determining whether the U.S. produce industry is at risk due to Mexican imports of fresh tomatoes.

Earlier this month, the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) filed a request to continue that antidumping investigation, just a month after the U.S. Department of Commerce signed a new suspension agreement with the Mexican tomato industry ensuring tomato imports remain duty-free.

Now, Arizona’s representatives are stepping up to keep the cross-border produce trade duty-free.

“As the Commission continues the final phase of its antidumping investigation to determine whether a U.S. industry was materially injured or is threatened with material injury by reason of imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, we respectfully urge that you consider the interests of American consumers and Arizona workers in making any determination,” the representatives said in the letter to the USITC.

“Imported tomatoes give consumers choices and access to a higher quality and greater variety of produce,” the letter continues. “Our trade relationship with Mexico is also an economic driver for our state, region, and country.”

McSally has introduced an amendment to a spending bill for the Commerce, Justice and State departments to prevent the antidumping investigation from proceeding.

“None of the funds appropriated by this Act or any other Act may be used for the purpose of enforcing a suspension agreement, continuing an antidumping duty investigation or enforcing an antidumping duty order related to fresh tomatoes from Mexico,” the amendment reads.

Arizona is one of the country’s leading entry points for fresh produce from Mexico.

“Trade in tomatoes from Mexico supports around 33,000 American jobs and contributes millions of dollars to the economy of Arizona.  I will continue to fight on behalf of Arizonans for duty-free trade in tomatoes,” McSally said.

University of Arizona study referenced in the letter to the USITC confirmed McSally’s jobs number claim and revealed that supply chains derived from Mexican tomato imports account for nearly $3 billion in U.S. gross domestic product.

“We will continue working to protect Arizona jobs from unnecessary trade restrictions,” Sinema said in a statement.

Sinema was instrumental in the successful negotiation of the new suspension agreement.

“Arizona’s relationship with neighbor Mexico supports thousands of jobs across the state and is a driver of our economic growth,” Schweikert said in a statement. “I am pleased to see the Arizona delegation stay consistent in working together to protect our cross-border trading relationships and Arizona jobs from harmful trade restrictions.”

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