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Mexican producers request stop to US apple imports

Last week, in the framework of Enrique Peña Nieto's visit to Chihuahua, apple producers from Coahuila requested, via the newspaper El Heraldo, that President Enrique Peña Nieto stop the importation of apples from the United States because they are able to offer lower prices than domestic apples, due to the enormous subsidies that the US Government grants producers. Mexican growers believe that they represent an unfair competition, that could cause local growers bankruptcy.

Producers demanded that the Federal Electricity Commission adjust the electricity prices paid for the cold storage of apples, as even in the United States they are up to 300 percent cheaper.

"The Ministry of Finance seems to be more committed with the American producer and with Mexican importers than with the domestic producers. They haven't been willing to protect the apple sector in the least and they allow the indiscriminate entry of apples from the United States, facilitating and allowing the taking of our domestic market," stated in the newspaper UNIFRUT, Packaging, Apple Producers and Cold Storage from Chihuahua, and the Fruit Growers Cooperative of Chihuahua.

According to Ricardo Marquez Portillo, representative of UNIFRUT, "The problem we have now is the same that we've faced since the signing of the FTA in 1994. There are unfair practices in the marketing of apples. In 2013, the value of production shrank by 25 percent so producers stopped receiving more than 4,200 million pesos."

"We need and we request that this case be solved favorably and that there is a realistic appropriate compensatory tax as soon as possible, otherwise our industry will be bankrupt," the apple producers stated.

Currently, they added, "We are waiting for the preliminary ruling of the lawsuits we have filed dumping practices in the period 2011-2013. The lawsuits were against importers and exporters of American apple from both countries.

350,000 tons of US apples at dump prices
So far this year, Mexico has imported at least 350,000 tons of apples from the United States. According to Heraclio Rodriguez, an apple producer in Chihuahua, these imports have affected the production of states like Coahuila and Chihuahua, the main apple producers in the country. Rodriguez stated that, "The problem is that the US apples are offered at a dump price, the commercial practice of selling a product below its normal price. Americans sell at low prices because, thanks to the subsidies they receive, they don't even have to pay for their packaging."

"Supermarkets chains, like WalMart and Soriana, prefer to offer imported fruit because the national product costs more. Apple producers from Coahuila and Chihuahua are directly affected by this decision, and in 2013, producers were forced to throw away one hundred thousand tons of apple because the Government didn't give them subsidies and they were affected by unfair competition."

"This year, farmers from the United States exported frozen apples from 2014 at US $6 per case, a price that is so low that it doesn't even cover what Mexican producers pay for packaging. The national producers filed a lawsuit for dumping and the Ministry of Economy, which should answer this suit, has not issued a resolution, affecting thousands of producers," he said.

Source: elheraldodesatillo.mx (With information from El Diario de Chihuahua and La Jornada)

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