US, Mexico Brace for Tomato Fight

Trade war possible as US considers ending pact
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2012 3:30 PM CDT
Tomatoes sit for sale in the Central de Abastos market in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

(Newser) – The humble tomato may spark a trade war between the US and Mexico, reports BusinessWeek. The US took a big step yesterday toward ending a 16-year deal that has kept the prices of Mexican tomatoes cheap in this country. Florida farmers have long pushed for the move, which is expected to be formalized next year, and Mexican officials think it's mighty suspicious that the Commerce Department is acting now, in the home stretch of an election year, to appease farmers in a swing state.

They're also hinting at retaliation, which has producers of other commodities worried. "It will be very unfortunate if this devolves into a shooting war because this becomes a tit-for-tat and in the end, nobody wins," an official with the National Potato Council tells the New York Times. The spat has big consequences for Mexico, which sends about $2 billion worth of tomatoes north every year—the Times notes that about half the tomatoes consumed in this country come from there. Expect Walmart and other big-box stores to push hard to change the Commerce Department's mind. (Read more tomatoes stories.)

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