The "war of the tomatoes"
Tomatoes bring a lot of foreign currency back to Mexico. Its export sales have indeed more than doubled in the past ten years, giving Mexico the enviable position of the world's leading exporter, ahead of the Netherlands. In 2017 (according to the latest available figures, published by the Atlas agroalimentario 2018 of the SIAP), no less than one and a half million (1,576,000) tons of Mexican tomatoes have left the territory, mainly to the United States* but also to Canada, a potentially buoyant market.
Total production, also growing steadily since 2013 (and 10th in the world rankings) amounts to more than 3 million tons, still in 2017**. Mexican tomatoes are mainly produced in the state of Sinaloa (more than 900 thousand tons in 2017), but the other traditionally producing states have also seen their sales increase take off. The state of San Luis Potosí, for example, has increased its production 300 percent since 2012, which has help it climb to the second national ranking production state.
This market growing dynamism is not so well seen by its main client. And the United States would apparently be ready to reopen a "tomato war". As a reminder, in 1996, Florida tomato growers led an offensive against the US Department of Commerce, accusing Mexican producers of unfair competition to enter the market. The trilateral agreement (NAFTA) suspended the ongoing investigation, and Commerce then negotiated a "suspension" agreement with producers, establishing guaranteed price compliance. In 2012, a new petition from Florida producers reactivated the “trade controversy”. The suspension agreement was then renewed, thus avoiding protectionist measures on the part of the United States.
Unfortunately, this agreement is coming to an end in 2019 ... reviving said controversy. President Donald Trump has already unearthed the hatchet by deciding on Tuesday, May 7, to revoke the suspension agreement and raise tariffs to 17.5% for Mexican tomatoes, on the grounds the implementation of anti-dumping measures (Expansion). A decision that should appeal to some of its electorate in Florida, but that will probably increase the price of Ketchup (among other products)!
Thus… "The tomato war" is has been officially declared!