On Tuesday, September 1, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Commerce (Commerce) released a joint report outlining the Trump Administration’s plan to address foreign produce imports and their impact on American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.
The report stems from the Administration’s recent efforts to address longstanding concerns of a sizable subset of U.S. producers – predominately those in southeastern states – who contend that they are adversely affected by import competition from Mexico. As is noted in the report, the increase in imports from Mexico since NAFTA’s enactment has been significant, growing from $1.2 billion in 1993 to $13.5 billion in 2019.
Virtual field hearings were held last month, where the three agencies heard testimony from various witnesses on both sides of the issue. Following the hearings, some proposed actions that have now been put forth include:
- USTR pursuing high-level discussions with the Mexican government to address industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of certain seasonal and perishable products, particularly strawberries and bell peppers
- USTR requesting that the International Trade Commission (ITC) initiate a Section 201 global safeguard investigation into the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury to domestic blueberry growers
- Commerce increasing outreach to, and cooperation with, stakeholders to both enhance understanding of existing trade remedies laws and processes and facilitate information related to unfair subsidies for foreign producers
- USDA working with stakeholders to maximize the use of existing programs and develop a market promotion strategy for domestic produce