Mexican trade chief slams U.S. demand on tomato inspections as 'unacceptable'

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A top Mexico trade negotiator on Tuesday slammed a U.S. proposal to inspect all Mexican tomato exports as “totally unacceptable,” saying the measure would trigger a logistical “collapse” in cross-border trade.

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, added that the U.S. demand posed a final obstacle to closing a deal with the United States that would end a tariff imposed by the Trump administration.

“If they withdraw this condition, we have in our hands a new deal for the sector,” Seade said on Twitter.

In May, the United States imposed a 17.5% tariff on Mexican tomatoes after the two sides failed to renew an earlier agreement that halted a U.S. anti-dumping investigation.

Tomato growers shortly after submitted proposals to end the dispute, beginning a series of negotiations.

“This measure is totally unacceptable for Mexico’s government because it constitutes a clear technical obstacle to trade. To accept it would cause a collapse of logistics and border inspections in the flow of bilateral trade,” Seade said, noting that there are 1.5 million tomato growers in Mexico.

Several Mexican agriculture associations said earlier this month that the government should implement equivalent measures in response to the U.S. proposal to inspect all tomato exports crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reporting by Sharay Angulo and Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Jonathan Oatis