U.S. Trade Rep. Calls for Investigation of Blueberry Imports, Other Produce

Published: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 4:18pm

The U.S. Trade representative is pushing for investigations of imported blueberries and other fresh produce.

In a report released this week, the USTR said it will ask the US International Trade Commission to investigate the degree “to which imports of blueberries have caused serious injury” to domestic growers. It will also seek talks with Mexican officials about strawberry, bell pepper and other fresh produce imports.

“USTR will work with domestic producers to commence an investigation by the (ITC) to monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers,” the report reads.

“It starts us down a path that could lead to tariffs or other restrictions,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. “It increases the tension between what should be very good neighbors who just signed a great trade agreement.”

“Just two months after signing the USMCA, now we’re starting a trade conflict with our top trading partner. It doesn’t make any sense,” he added.

Jungmeyer spoke in opposition to such measures during August hearings. He said consumers would ultimately bear the cost of any tariffs or restrictions, which would also harm southern Arizona’s massive produce import industry.

The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association praised the actions in a recent release, saying they’ll help protect domestic growers from rising Mexican imports, and what they claim are unfair trading practices.

“Mexico and other foreign suppliers should be on notice that all of our affected fruit and vegetable sectors, working with the Administration and elected officials, are committed to ensuring that every trade remedy tool available is used to correct the unreasonable foreign trade practices that have caused persistent losses in market share and revenue, shuttered farms, and growing job losses throughout our state,” FFVA President Mike Joyner said in the statement.

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