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U.S. throws out case against Mexico, Chile grapes

WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday threw out a dumping case against Mexican and Chilean spring-season table grapes, ruling that their sales are not harming California grape growers. The 5-1 ITC vote ended the United States' investigation into table grapes from Chile and Mexico that are marketed in the United States between April 1 and June 30. "We are overjoyed. Justice has been served," said Cesar Salazar, director of the Mexican table grape producers association AALPUM. The U.S. Commerce Department launched an investigation into Chilean and Mexican grape shipments on May 10 at the request of Californian growers whose early crop is marketed in April-June. The growers claimed Mexican and Chilean prices were artificially low. The U.S. industry alleged Chile was selling spring table grapes anywhere from 23 to 99.4 percent below fair value, while Mexico was dumping at prices 38.9 percent below fair value. Last year, Chile sold $45.8 million worth of grapes in the United States during April-June. Mexico's exports during the same period were $137.3 million, according to the Commerce Department. The dumping case could have complicated relations with Chile as the South American country negotiates a free-trade agreement with the United States. In Latin America, U.S. dumping laws are widely seen as an obstacle to free trade and a protectionist weapon wielded by uncompetitive American industries. "This decision shows that the U.S. authorities are fair," Salazar said after he and other Mexican officials cheered the vote result. Mexico's argument that seasonality cannot be admitted in dumping disputes won the day, Salazar said. "An investigation would have hurt agricultural trading relations between our countries because Mexico has dismissed complaints against U.S. tomato and apple producers because it won't admit cases based on seasonal production," he said. © 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

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