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Northwest farmers hope to regain Mexican market

U.S. produce is about to get cheaper in Mexico. That includes apples, pears and potatoes from the Northwest.

Mexico has agreed to lift a tariff it added three years ago in retaliation over a dispute with the U.S. Northwest farmers are now working to win back their customers south of the border.

The original dispute wasn't over fruit. It was over Mexican trucks. In 2009, Mexico placed a 20 percent tariff on many U.S. fruits and vegetables to protest the exclusion of Mexican 18-wheelers on U.S. highways.

This week, the two countries reached a deal to remove the tariff.

Mark Powers of the Northwest Horticultural Council is hopeful about recapturing sales in Mexico that temporarily shifted to South American competitors.

"We are still the predominant foreign supplier into that country and there hasn't been another supplier than can deliver the volume of fruit that Mexico demands in terms of apples and pears," Powers said.

Potatoes might have a longer row to hoe. The Washington Potato Commission says they may have to embark on trade missions to convince Mexican companies to switch back to Northwest spuds from the replacement Canadian potatoes.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.