Border Trade Alliance opposes Department of Commerce withdrawal from Tomato Suspension Agreement
Decision calibrates trade policy around regional interests, harms national agribusiness
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2019) The Border Trade Alliance opposes the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to withdraw from the 2013 Tomato Suspension Agreement, a move that attempts to tilt trade policy in favor of parochial Florida farmer interests, but jeopardizes the health of the national agriculture industry.
The Commerce Department announced that the U.S. intends to withdraw from the agreement on May 7, 2019.
“This is an obvious attempt by a small group of regional produce interests to get special treatment from the federal government at the expense of the rest of U.S. agribusiness, which faces new uncertainty in the global marketplace,” Border Trade Alliance President Ms. Britton Clarke said. “Using the levers of government to erect new barriers to tomato trade with Mexico doesn’t just hurt business, though—it hurts consumers, who would pay more for the vine-ripened tomatoes they have come to prefer.”
The BTA has strongly resisted so-called “seasonality” attempts by Florida produce growers to dramatically curb the importation of produce, including tomatoes, from Mexico. The BTA has opposed protectionist agriculture legislation and attempts by Florida tomato interests to prop up their industry during the negotiations of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“Let’s be clear,” Ms. Clarke said. “This is not about unfair trade practices; it’s about certain interests seeking new rules tilted in their favor. We hope that negotiations over a new Tomato Suspension agreement are centered on tearing down barriers to trade, promoting a strengthened trading relationship with our neighbor Mexico, and that the conversation considers the interests of American consumers, who deserve the ability to shop for quality, affordable produce throughout the year.”
Since 1986, the BTA has served as a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides a forum for discussion and advocacy on issues pertaining to border development and quality of life and trade in the Americas. A network of public and private sector representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada, BTA’s core values include a commitment to improving the quality of life of border communities through trade and commerce. The BTA is online at thebta.org and @borderalliance.
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