The Trump administration announced on Tuesday an investigation into Mexican trade practices that Florida produce growers say is a threat to their livelihood. The action drew praise from Democrats and Republicans in Florida.
The United States Trade Representative, Department of Agriculture and Department of Commerce released a plan to investigate the importation of Mexican blueberries, commence high-level government discussions with Mexico on U.S. concerns regarding imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers and other seasonal produce and potentially launch additional expedited investigations by the end of 2020.
“We are hopeful that today’s announcement signals a commitment from the administration to stand with Florida farmers and hold Mexico accountable for their unfair trade practices,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat. “It’s clear there is still a lot of work needed to provide the relief our farmers desperately need — the Florida Department of Agriculture will continue pushing for solutions, and we look forward to working with the administration to enact timely and effective remedies.”
The announcement comes after Republicans and Democrats from Florida argued to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement must be revised to prevent Mexican growers from undercutting Florida’s produce industry.
“For years, Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers have been harmed by unfair trade practices from Mexico, and the administration made a promise to me and the entire Florida congressional delegation earlier this year to examine these unreasonable trade practices and do something about it,” Rubio said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a first step in delivering on that promise.”
During a virtual hearing last month, elected officials and Florida growers argued that the state’s fruit and vegetable industry is undermined by produce subsidized by the Mexican government, which gives Mexican produce an unfair advantage in the U.S. marketplace. Florida’s produce industry is particularly harmed by the practice because its growing season overlaps with Mexico’s, they said.
Source: Miami Herald