Lawmakers Warn Produce Import Investigations Could Disrupt Trade Flows

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 6:20pm
Updated: Friday, January 15, 2021 - 7:25am
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A bipartisan group of legislators are urging the U.S. International Trade Commission not to take actions that could disrupt trade relationships during its ongoing investigations of imported blueberries and other fresh produce.

The International Trade Commission is currently investigating the degree to which domestic growers have been harmed by imports of blueberries, strawberries, bell pepperssquash and cucumbers.

But in a letter to U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer, 18 federal lawmakers, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, warned that imposing trade restrictions on fresh produce from Mexico could disrupt the supply chain and invite retaliation.

"This issue was settled when the USMCA was signed," said Lance Jungmeyer is president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, which applauded the congressional letter. "To have this immediately after you signed a trade a agreement means you don't really have a trade agreement. It means you're back at war."

He says the investigations not only undermine the recently implemented U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, but could result in tariffs or quotas that would raise prices and limit access for U.S. consumers.

Those in favor of the investigations say they protect domestic growers from rapidly increasing imports.

The International Trade Commission held a hearing on the impact of rising blueberry imports Tuesday, Jan. 12. It is set to make a determination in the case on Feb. 11.

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