Oct 9, 2020‘Fair trade’ measures pursued in new plan
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the USDA and the Department of Commerce released a report Sept. 1 outlining the Trump administration’s plan to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.
According to a news release, the plan follows public hearings held in August where more than 60 witnesses testified, in addition to over 300 written submissions.
“President Trump recognizes the challenges faced by American farmers and is committed to promoting and securing fair trade and a level playing field for all American producers. Secretary Perdue, Secretary Ross, and I are fully engaged in this effort. We would like to thank all of the elected officials, agricultural leaders, and dozens of farmers who participated in these hearings and helped make this plan a priority,” said USTR Robert Lighthizer.
“Based on information collected from these hearings, the agencies commit to the following actions to support America’s seasonal and perishable fruit and vegetable producers:
Plan to Support American Producers of Seasonal and Perishable Fruits and Vegetables:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. The Department of Commerce will:
(a) 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; and
(b) 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.
5. The Department of Agriculture will
(a) increase targeted outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables to maximize the use of existing Department of Agriculture programs; and
(b) develop a market promotion strategy for domestically produced produce; and
(c) 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.
6. 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.”
“This plan does not foreclose additional actions and investigations by the Trump administration to support producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables,” the news release stated. “The administration is dedicated to supporting America’s hardworking farmers across the country and recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing a diverse and homegrown food supply.”
— Gary Pullano, managing editor