Plan Released to Address Unfair Mexican Imports
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Posted by: Mary Kendall Dixon
After receiving over 326 comments on the official USTR Docket and holding hearings to listen to testimony from industry leaders and farmers from Georgia, Florida and other states, a joint agency plan from the U.S. Trade Representative, USTR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commerce, was released on Sept. 1 that begins to address the harm Georgia and other southeastern fruit and vegetable growers have suffered from because of unfair trade practices and excessive importing of produce from Mexico and other countries.
We applaud this critical first step in taking action to support and finding solutions for our Georgia and southeastern producers.
Report on Seasonal and Perishable Products in U.S. Commerce
Plan to Support American Producers of Seasonal and Perishable Fruits and Vegetables
- USTR will request the International Trade Commission to initiate a Section 201 global safeguard investigation into the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury to domestic blueberry growers.
- USTR will pursue senior-level, government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers and other seasonal and perishable products.
- USTR will work with domestic producers to commence an investigation by the International Trade Commission to monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers, which could enable an expedited Section 201 global safeguard investigation later this year.
- The Department of Commerce will:
- establish an outreach program to connect with Southeastern and other growers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, to enhance understanding of applicable trade remedy laws and processes
- establish a formal channel for stakeholders to provide information related to unfair subsidies for foreign producers and exporters of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, including those in Mexico – building on ongoing efforts to partner with U.S. industry to identify such subsidies.
- The Department of Agriculture will:
- increase targeted outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables to maximize the use of existing Department of Agriculture programs; and
- develop a market promotion strategy for domestically produced produce; and
- initiate conversations with relevant federal partners to better understand the extent to which imports of seasonal and perishable products are utilized to enable criminal activity.
- USTR, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture will establish an interagency working group to monitor seasonal and perishable fruit and vegetable products, coordinate as appropriate regarding future investigations and trade actions, and provide technical assistance to Members of Congress in developing legislation on this issue.
The investigative elements of the plan are essential to a long-term solution, however other plan initiatives are also important and should not be overlooked. Additional initiatives include a formal channel for growers to provide information to the U.S. Department of Commerce concerning unfair subsidies and pricing by foreign governments, development of a domestic marketing program, U.S.D.A. review of COOL (Country of Origin Law) enforcement and compliance protocols, and establishing an interagency working group to coordinate future trade investigations for perishable and seasonal produce.
We will continue to work closely with the USTR, USDA and Commerce to support and implement an effective solution that will deliver the trade relief Georgia and Southeastern produce growers need. We are committed to ensuring the Administration uses every trade remedy tool available to correct these unreasonable foreign trade practices. Without an effective solution the survival of our industry is at stake. This plan is only the first step.
We express appreciation to Georgia’s congressional delegation for their hard work and undying support on this issue. We also say thank you to Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black for his leadership on this effort and his continued support for Georgia fruit and vegetable growers.
Finally, a big thank you goes to those GFVGA members that committed their time to submit comments, provided testimony and supplied information outlining how the imports from Mexico were affecting their farm operation and devasting the industry’s economic livelihood.
August 13th Hearing Transcripts
August 20th Hearing Transcripts
All Submitted Comments