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Rubio, Colleagues Raise Concerns to Lighthizer Regarding Lack of Effective Trade Enforcement for Seasonal Produce in USMCA

Apr 4, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), and Al Lawson (D-FL) led a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives in a letter raising concerns to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the lack of progress in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with respect to improved mechanisms to initiate and sustain legitimate anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) proceedings for trade in seasonal and perishable produce.
 
Additional signatories included Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), as well as Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Ted Yoho (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Val Demings (D-FL), Dan Webster (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Ross Spano (R-FL), Greg Steube (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL),  Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Donna Shalala (D-FL), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Austin Scott (R-GA), Jody Hice (R-GA), Rick Allen (R-GA), and David Scott (D-GA).
 
Senator Rubio and Representatives Buchanan and Lawson introduced legislation (S. 16 / H.R. 101) earlier this year to combat Mexico’s unfair trade practices.
 
The full text of the letter is available below.
 
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
 
We write to raise concerns regarding the lack of progress in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with respect to improved mechanisms to initiate and sustain legitimate anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) proceedings for trade in seasonal and perishable produce. As you know, providing a fair process for domestic seasonal fruit and vegetable growers to access genuine AD/CVD relief was not just an early objective of the Administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations, but was also referenced by Congress under current Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The USMCA’s silence on the matter is significant and concerning.
 
The President has consistently argued that reducing persistent trade deficits with America’s trading partners is an important goal in the pursuit of free, fair, and reciprocal trade. The U.S. agricultural trade deficit with Mexico has risen rapidly since NAFTA came into force, driven by growing Mexican fruit and vegetable exports buoyed by significant government subsidies and unfair pricing practices, among other factors. In 2016, the U.S. faced a $5.1 billion trade deficit in agricultural goods with Mexico. Fruits and vegetables made up the largest source of Mexico’s bilateral agricultural trade surplus at $11.2 billion, nearly $2 billion more than the bilateral U.S. trade surplus of meats, dairy, grain, and oilseeds combined. While the Mexican Government has refused to include a mechanism to correct this growing imbalance in the USMCA text, we still believe the Administration must ensure that clear rules are in place to defend domestic seasonal and perishable produce from unfair trade practices.
 
We strongly insist that the Administration address this issue in a way that gives confidence to all seasonal growers that the federal government can and will act to counter legitimate injury from unfair imports from Mexico or any other country. This could be accomplished by enacting the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (S. 16 / H.R. 101), or through appropriate administrative action to establish equally effective, enforceable, and durable remedies through existing trade authorities. Those remedies must able to provide relief, as necessary and applicable, across a highly diverse suite of American seasonal producers.
 
Domestic seasonal and perishable produce growers deserve reasonable access to trade enforcement tools that are readily available to other agricultural and industrial producers in the U.S. Such an outcome would be good for American fruit and vegetable farmers, good for American families, and good for the nation’s food security. Moreover, a successful resolution of this issue would provide important support for the USMCA within the agricultural communities we represent.
 
We greatly appreciate your efforts to secure the strongest trade deals possible for the United States and your commitment to protect American workers and production capacity from unfair and illegal foreign competition. We look forward to working with you towards a successful resolution of this important issue prior to a USMCA vote.
 
Sincerely,