May 6, 2019

Tomato Agreement Changes Impact Arizona Distributors

New duties on imported tomatoes from Mexico kick in this month.

The Tomato Suspension Agreement, a deal in place for more than 20 years, is expected to end this month. The agreement governs the price of exporting tomatoes from Mexico to the U.S. in place of tariffs. Florida growers who believe tomatoes from Mexico are sold below production cost got permission from the U.S. Department of Commerce to withdraw from the deal. Lorraine Rivera learned more about the potential impacts to distributors of produce who oversee imports and exports at the Arizona-Mexico border. She spoke to Jaime Chamberlain, president of J-C Distributing Inc., whose family has moved produce from Mexico for more than 40 years.

"As of May 7, any importation of Mexico tomatoes will be subject to duties. At the moment, it's 17.56 percent duties on the value of the product," Chamberlain said. "That's a very difficult amount of duties to pay. And it's something that may change the landscape of the importation of fruits and vegetables in general through Nogales and all ports of entry."

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