Apples grown in the United States are often sold at lower prices than those grown in Mexico, frustrating farmers who believe they are faced with an uneven playing field.
Local producers have accused the U.S. of dumping the product on the Mexican market, hurting domestic agriculture and undermining their efforts to increase production.
While Mexico doesn’t grow enough apples to satisfy domestic demand, a representative of the national apple growers’ association told the newspaper Milenio that the industry opposes predatory pricing that adversely affects Mexican growers.
Ricardo Márquez said that Mexico imports around 300,000 tonnes of U.S. grown apples per year and the quantity is growing despite greater investment in the sector and an improvement in technologies aimed at increasing yields.
Oversupply is particularly damaging to local producers.
He said the growers’ association has lodged claims with authorities in relation to U.S. dumping at prices that undercut the locally grown product.
“We have fought and asked the government for equality so that imports are not carried out under unfair and advantageous conditions that directly affect Mexican apple producers,” Márquez said.
The Economy Secretariat took two years to investigate a dumping complaint made in 2014 but an import duty of up to 21% was finally introduced in January 2016.
However, it only lasted six months before being removed after an anti-dumping probe determined that damage caused by the imported apples to domestic production was not sufficient to tax them.
Ricardo Márquez disagrees, saying that along with a rise in the value of the dollar the removal of the tariff has led to renewed instability in the industry.
While the vast majority of imported apples come from the U.S., it isn’t the only country with which Mexico competes.
The president of the Coahuila branch of the growers’ association said that apples from New Zealand and Chile also arrive during Mexico’s harvest season, increasing the impact on local producers.
“We ask that a quarantine be respected . . . that after a harvest they allow two months before they start to send apples to Mexico,” José Recio Valdez said.
Some 700,000 tonnes of apples are produced annually in Mexico, mainly in the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango, generating an annual 4-billion-peso economic spillover, Márquez said.
The mechanism for settling disputes related to subsidies and dumping complaints is one of the most contentious issues in ongoing NAFTA renegotiation talks.
Source: Milenio (sp)