/ Modified aug 15, 2020 2:11 p.m.

Arizona representatives raise concerns about potential Mexican produce measures

In a letter, the politicians say certain provisions could harm the produce import industry of critical importance to Nogales, Arizona.

checking tomatoes Workers sort through tomatoes at a packing plant in southern Sonora, Mexico.
Murphy Woodhouse/Fronteras Desk

Most of Arizona’s congressional delegation is raising concerns about potential U.S. measures against Mexican produce imports.

Both Arizona senators and seven representatives signed onto a recent letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. In it, they say potential so-called seasonality provisions could raise the price of tomatoes and harm the massive produce import industry of critical importance to Nogales, Arizona.

“As you are aware a ‘seasonality’ provision, whereby certain Mexican tomatoes could be subjected to additional dumping duties at various times throughout the year, would affect jobs and economic development in Arizona,” the letter reads.

But Nogales distributor Jaime Chamberlain says the issue is bigger than tomatoes, and some U.S. growers are asking for measures against many Mexican produce imports.

“And long term, I think unfortunately who loses here is the U.S. consumer,” he said.

At a hearing Thursday, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association President Mike Joyner asked Lighthizer’s office for “prompt USTR trade relief,” and an investigation of Mexican trade practices. He says they unfairly advantage many Mexican imports over domestically grown produce, according to prepared remarks.

Imports account for well over half of the U.S. tomato supply, and the vast majority come from Mexico, according to federal data. Roughly $570 million worth of Mexican tomatoes crossed through just the Nogales port of entry in 2019, an important part of the $3.3 billion worth of produce imports there that year, according to federal trade data.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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