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Mexican apple growers denounce unfair competition from the US

The year is still not over and the importation of apples from the United States, between January and now, has already increased by 52 percent. Mexican producers said that this increase was due to the dumping practices used by US producers over the years, despite them already having filed a formal complaint with the Ministry of Economy (SE), which hasn’t given them an answer yet, said the members of the Regional Agricultural Union of Fruit Growers of Chihuahua (UNIFRUT).

Ricardo Marquez Portillo, the president of UNIFRUT and a representative of the National Apple Product Committee System, said the dumping was a trap used by importers when they offered their product below the prices they bill. "It is an unfair trade practice that is severely harming us and will affect hundreds of families if it isn’t stopped," he said.

"We’ve been having low numbers for over three years. Only in 2013 we lost 27 percent of our total sales value, the people from Tarahumara have also been the most affected. As representatives of the entire apple industry we have to request that there is a regulation to stop this unfair competition with foreign producers," said the President of Unifrut.

According to the Agricultural Union, which agglomerates the states of Chihuahua, Sonora, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Puebla, and Hidalgo, imports of apples from the US has increased by more than 50% this year when compared to 2014. This has placed the Mexican producers in a critical situation, and if things continue this way, the sector will lose 22,000 jobs and more than 4,000 million pesos, they said.

Between January and August last year, total apple imports from the United States amounted to 163,000 tons, while in the same period of 2015, that volume increased to 250,000 tons.

"This year Mexico achieved a good apple harvest, but it turns out that the Mexican producers can’t sell their product, so they are at risk of having the largest losses recorded in recent years," said the representative of the producers.

The organization also stated that they have a registry of cases in which apple importers have increased their purchases of US apples by up to 44 percent.

"Importers take advantage of the dumping prices, which keep decreasing for importers and never benefit Mexican consumers, since they only translate into profits for importers and losses for Mexican producers," he added.

According to the trade balance data of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the Bank of Mexico (Banxico), last year the import of this fruit registered an annual growth rate of 15 percent, which means imports amounted to 300,000 tons worth a total of $453 million dollars.

In January 2015, Ricardo Marquez Portillo, representative of the apple product system, said that, according to official data, apple imports had increased by 95 percent in ten years, prompting the saturation of the Mexican market.

In turn, Benjamin Grayeb, president of the National Agricultural Council (CNA), said that on November 10 the Council had also requested the Ministry of Economy to withdraw the countervailing tariffs on imports of US apples.

"Its time to implement the tariff because the Americans are not going to give up, as in other areas such as freight or tuna," said Grayeb, as part of the American Union COOL labeling (Country Of Origin Labeling) to imports of meat products from Mexico and Canada that caused losses for Mexican producers.

According to data from Banxico, the largest producers in this country are Chihuahua with an average of 55 percent of production, followed by Durango with 16, Coahuila with 10, and Puebla with 9 percent.


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