Feb 11, 2020Cherry imports from Brazil, Turkey questioned by senator
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Feb. 11 called for and investigation into certain cherry imports that may be driving down the prices for U.S. growers.
Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to investigate allegations that Turkish cherry growers have been routing tart cherry products through Brazil to evade duties on goods imported into the United States.
Earlier this year, the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) filed a complaint alleging that tart cherry imports from Brazil are being misidentified and misreported in order to avoid paying duties that help Michigan cherry growers compete in the global marketplace.
“Michigan producers have endured ‘dumping’ of Turkish cherry products into the U.S. for years – resulting in a significant drop in the price of their products,” Peters wrote in a letter to Mark Morgan, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Failing to investigate and prosecute alleged violations such as those made by the Cherry Marketing Institute threatens to undermine an industry that has weathered years of unfair competition.”
In 2018, the U.S. government removed Turkey from a list of countries eligible to import tart cherry products into the country duty-free, resulting in a sharp decline of imports from the country. Turkish cherries had previously accounted for over half of all U.S. tart cherry juice concentrate purchases. Imports of tart cherry products from Brazil, which has no identifiable tart cherry industry, rapidly surged once Turkey’s duty-free privileges were removed. Brazil is still eligible to import tart cherry products to the U.S. duty-free, according to a press release from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. CMI’s report alleges that Turkey could be routing tart cherry products through Brazil in order to circumvent import duties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that the final 2019 U.S. tart cherry production will total 290 million pounds, down 18% from the previous year’s numbers, according to the press release. Michigan produces more than two-thirds of the nation’s tart cherries –valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Agriculture is one of Michigan’s largest industries, contributing billions of dollars to the state’s economy and contributing to the employment of about 20% of the state’s workforce. Competition from the low-priced tart cherry imports have driven down prices for growers in Michigan and negatively affected the tart cherry industry.
Peters also recently criticized the International Trade Commission (ITC) for reversing its preliminary decision to impose tariffs against Turkish tart cherry exporters after he testified alongside Michigan cherry growers at a hearing in December.
Read a PDF of the letter here: 200211_Letter_CBP_CherryImports