Oscar Woltman, AMHPAC President, Discusses Tomato Suspension Agreement
NORTH AMERCIA - A week ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it plans to withdraw from the 2013 Tomato Suspension Agreement with Mexico, and this announcement stirred up many emotions across the industry. As we’ve previously reported, buyers and sellers must abide by the current terms of the agreement until May 7, and many have expressed either support or chagrin at the decision.
I spoke with Oscar Woltman, AMHPAC President, to hear another side of the story and what effects he foresees for the industry and the consumer.
“First, any compensatory duty will eventually fall onto the consumer, because producer, trader, and retailer cannot afford to reduce their prices and swallow the duty. If we don’t have an agreement before May 7, Mexican exporters will have to pay a 17 percent deposit prior to export. This will increase the sales price, and all new tomato contracts will include this surcharge in the final price,” he began. “Second, the industry always reorganizes once it encounters a new situation. Do not forget that if there is no agreement by May 7, we will fight for our rights at the International Trade Commission. We are sure we have complied with all the requirements we agreed upon in 2013 when we signed the last suspension agreement, so we can expect to win. Then there will be no suspension agreement or dumping. I do not believe that will favor the local producers.”
I asked Oscar what he would suggest people who support the deal do ahead of May 7—when the deal officially ends.
“I believe in a solution before May 7. I believe our proposals for better and clearer enforcement are very good and will be accepted once the counterparts really study them,” he explained to me. “We are looking for a clear, organized market where all involved have their share of the market based on product and quality. We ask all involved to review the proposals presented to the Department of Commerce. If there is no will to negotiate before May 7, we will await the International Trade Commission’s verdict the beginning of November.”
In the meantime, Oscar stated that, as a producer, you should prepare yourself in case the duty does start on May 8.
As the deadline looms closer, AndNowUKnow will continue to report the latest news.