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Mexico Tomato Growers Offer New Floor Prices on U.S. Imports

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Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican growers are offering to raise the floor price of tomatoes shipped to the U.S. in order to salvage a 16-year-old agreement with the Commerce Department, according to Jeff Weintraub, senior vice president at Fleishman-Hillard Inc., which is representing the growers.

U.S. importers and the Mexican farmers say the absence of an agreement may trigger tariffs. U.S. producers, led by the Florida industry, say they want a free market in the tomato trade. The Commerce Department issued a preliminary decision last month to end the agreement.

The offer by the Mexican growers, which would add 18 percent to 25 percent to the floor price depending on the type of tomato, was presented today to the U.S. Commerce Department, Weintraub said in an e-mail.

The proposal would extend the current agreement to cover 100 percent of Mexican tomatoes instead of the current 85 percent, Martin Ley, a representative for the growers from Mexico, said in an interview after meeting with Commerce Department officials.

Commerce Department didn’t comment on the meeting.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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