Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
On April 18, 1996, the Department initiated an antidumping investigation to determine whether imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). See
On October 10, 1996, the Department and Mexican tomato growers/exporters initialed a proposed agreement to suspend the antidumping investigation. On October 28, 1996, the Department preliminarily determined that imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico were being sold at LTFV in the United States.
On May 31, 2002, Mexican tomato growers/exporters accounting for a significant percentage of all fresh tomatoes imported into the United States from Mexico provided written notice to the Department of their withdrawal from the 1996 Suspension Agreement, effective July 30, 2002. Because the 1996 Suspension Agreement would no longer cover substantially all imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, effective July 30, 2002, the Department terminated the 1996 Suspension Agreement, terminated the five-year sunset review of the suspended investigation, and resumed the antidumping investigation.
On November 8, 2002, the Department and Mexican tomato growers/exporters initialed a proposed agreement suspending the resumed antidumping investigation on imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. On December 4, 2002, the Department and certain growers/exporters of fresh tomatoes from Mexico signed a new suspension agreement (2002 Suspension Agreement).
On November 26, 2007, Mexican tomato growers/exporters accounting for a significant percentage of all fresh tomatoes imported into the United States from Mexico provided written notice to the Department of their withdrawal from the 2002 Suspension Agreement, effective 90 days from the date of their withdrawal letter (
On November 28, 2007, the Department and certain Mexican tomato growers/exporters initialed a new proposed agreement to suspend the antidumping investigation on imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. On December 3, 2007, the Department released the initialed agreement to interested parties and provided them an opportunity to comment on the initialed agreement. On December 17 and 18, 2007, several interested parties filed comments in support of the initialed agreement.
Because the 2002 Suspension Agreement would no longer cover substantially all imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, the Department published a notice of intent to terminate the 2002 Suspension Agreement, intent to terminate the five-year sunset review of the suspended investigation, and intent to resume the antidumping investigation.
On January 22, 2008, the Department signed a new suspension agreement (2008 Suspension Agreement) with certain growers/exporters of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.
On June 22, 2012, the U.S. petitioners in the suspended antidumping investigation filed a request for withdrawal of the petition and termination of the investigation and the suspension agreement (see footnote 1 above). Subsequent to their initial submission, the petitioners filed additional information supporting their request on July 11 and 23, and August 6 and 10, 2012, and additional letters of support on July 2, 19, 24, 26, and 30, and August 14, 2012. To date, the petitioners have submitted on the record of the 2008 Suspension Agreement proceeding letters of support from other tomato growers in California, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. The petitioners have also filed letters of support on the same record from the Certified Greenhouse Farmers Association and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, as well as letters of support from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The Mexican tomato grower/exporter signatories to the agreement oppose terminating the antidumping proceeding and the suspension agreement. The Mexican tomato grower/exporter signatories filed comments opposing the petitioners' request for terminating the proceeding and the suspension agreement on July 5, 17, and 30, and August 13, 2012, and letters of opposition from numerous parties on July 19, 25, 26, 27, 30, and 31, and August 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, and 14, 2012. To date, the Mexican tomato growers/exporters have filed letters on the record of the 2008 Suspension Agreement proceeding opposing withdrawal of the petition and termination of the agreement from the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, based in Nogales, Arizona, numerous U.S. importers, several members of Congress, and several Mexican government officials.
These filings are on the public record of the 2008 Suspension Agreement in Import Administration's Central Records Unit, room 7046 of the main Department of Commerce building. These filings are also available to registered users via Import Administration's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (IA ACCESS) at
The merchandise subject to the suspended investigation is all fresh or chilled tomatoes (fresh tomatoes) which have Mexico as their origin, except for those tomatoes which are for processing. For purposes of this suspended investigation, processing is defined to include preserving by any commercial process, such as canning, dehydrating, drying, or the addition of chemical substances, or converting the tomato product into juices, sauces, or purees. Fresh tomatoes that are imported for cutting up, not further processing (
Commercially grown tomatoes, both for the fresh market and for processing, are classified as Lycopersicon esculentum. Important commercial varieties of fresh tomatoes include common round, cherry, grape, plum, greenhouse, and pear tomatoes, all of which are covered by this investigation.
Tomatoes imported from Mexico covered by this Agreement are classified under the following subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTSUS), according to the season of importation: 0702 and 9906.07.01 through 9906.07.09. Although the HTSUS numbers are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of the suspended investigation is dispositive.
Based on the information contained in the petitioners' June 22, 2012, request, and following a review of the statute, our regulations and precedent, the Department has determined to conduct a changed circumstances review pursuant to section 751(b)(1)(B) of the Act. Although the petitioners request that the Department immediately terminate the suspended investigation without further comment or consideration based on their withdrawal of the petition, the Department has determined that a changed circumstances review is warranted. The Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), explicitly provides separate and distinct mechanisms for termination of an ongoing investigation (by withdrawal of the petition or indication of lack of interest) and a suspended investigation (through an administrative review or changed circumstances review). Compare section 734(a)(1)(A) of the Act with sections 751(d) and 782(h)(2) of the Act. The Department's regulations (both those currently in effect and those in effect in 1996)
Although the petitioners cite three cases as support for their request to immediately terminate the suspended investigation (Axle and Brake Assemblies from Hungary,
In light of the distinct statutory and regulatory provisions governing termination of an ongoing investigation and termination of a suspended investigation, and consistent with our statement in EPROMs from Japan, the Department has determined that a changed circumstances review is the expected mechanism by which the Department will examine a request to terminate a suspended investigation. Therefore, in accordance with section 751(b)(1) of the Act, we are initiating a changed circumstances review.
Both the Act and the Department's current regulations require that “substantially all” domestic producers express a lack of interest in the order or suspension agreement in order for the Department to revoke an order or terminate a suspended investigation.
Interested parties are invited to comment on the initiation of this changed circumstances review and the issue of industry support. Parties who submit comments or information in this proceeding are requested to include with their submission (1) a statement of the issue; and (2) a brief summary of the comments or information. All written comments may be submitted by interested parties not later than 14 days after the date of publication of this notice, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303 of the Department's regulations, and shall be served on all interested parties on the Department's service list. As noted above, in the time since the petitioners requested to withdraw the petition and terminate the suspended investigation, there have been numerous comments on this request filed on the record of the 2008 Suspension Agreement. If interested parties would like those comments to be considered for purposes of this changed circumstances review, they are requested to file the comments on the record of this proceeding.
As soon as practicable following the receipt of any submissions from interested parties during the comment period, the Department will publish in the
This notice is published in accordance with sections 751(b)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.216 and 351.221(c)(3).