The US Department of Commerce announced on Thursday that it plans to resume an anti-dumping investigation into fresh Mexican tomatoes after it withdraws from a 2013 agreement with Mexico.
The Department of Commerce told lawmakers that it intends to withdraw from the agreement that suspended the investigation, after hearing the concern of the US tomato sector.
Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, said the agency was "taking action to ensure that (US producers) are protected against unfair business practices."
Last week, about 50 US lawmakers headed by Senator Marco Rubio wrote to Ross asking him to take quick action. The congressmen said that, since 1996, hundreds of tomato growers across the country have been forced to abandon the business.
Lawmakers said Mexico's share of the tomato market in the United States has risen from 32 percent to 54 percent, while that of local producers has dropped from 65 percent to 40 percent.
The 2013 agreement, which established minimum reference prices for Mexican tomatoes, was agreed to, in part, to avoid a feared trade war if the United States decided to impose anti-dumping duties.
The Department of Commerce began negotiations to review the agreement with Mexico in January. However, they have stated that "despite the committed efforts of all parties, important issues remain pending."
If the Department of Commerce finds that fresh tomatoes were sold at a lower and unfair prices and the International Trade Commission sees significant damage, the government could take anti-dumping measures.