In adopting a moderately protectionist policy by mutual agreement, the two countries avoid a trade conflict that could have harmed their commerce more seriously.
"I applaud the good work of Undersecretary Sánchez and the Commerce Department to forge this important agreement to allow our domestic tomato industry to compete on a level playing field. The draft agreement meets the requirements of U.S. antidumping law and provides an effective remedy for our domestic tomato producers, further bolstering agriculture as a bright spot in our nation's economy. Ultimately, the Obama Administration forged an agreement that will restore stability and confidence to the U.S. tomato market and ensure fair trade in fresh tomatoes through increased reference prices, coverage and strengthened enforcement. The United States is one of the world's leading producers of tasty, high-quality tomatoes. Our U.S. fresh and processed tomatoes account for more than $2 billion in cash receipts and support thousands of American jobs in our food industry, shipping, processing and more."
|Undersecretary Francisco J. Sánchez|
In my class on U.S. food policy, we explore (a) some occasions when import-competing businesses (such as U.S. tomato growers) have convinced the government to put up protective barriers and (b) other occasions when such barriers have been resisted by advocacy coalitions led by import buyers (such as major retail chains) and other U.S. agricultural industries that rely on exports (such as wheat producers). These U.S. advocacy coalitions are politically important, because, of course, Mexican producer groups have no direct representation in the U.S. Congress.
A former student from this class today pointed out yesterday's New York Times coverage of the new tomato deal, which echoes these points. In the article, Stephanie Strom explains the advocacy coalitions that make the new policy politically feasible:
The Mexicans enlisted roughly 370 American businesses, including Wal-Mart Stores and meat and vegetable producers, to argue their cause. Those businesses feared a bitter trade war like the one the Mexicans waged over trucking, which imposed stiff tariffs on American goods headed south.