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Rubio, Nelson Lead Fight for Florida Agriculture in New Trade Deal with Mexico

Aug 27, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. works to finalize today’s announced deal with Mexico, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) renewed their calls with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to protect Florida growers in a final agreement.
In July, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Mexico, Rubio urged him to raise key issues in the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Earlier this year, Rubio reiterated his commitment to protecting Florida’s growers in NAFTA renegotiations. Last August, Rubio and Nelson urged Ambassador Lighthizer to propose measures that would protect Florida agriculture from unfair trade practices. Last September, Rubio also laid out Florida’s priorities and urged Lighthizer to work to construct a new trade deal with our North American partners that modernizes and builds on the successes of the previous agreement while also securing critical changes for Florida.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,
As you work towards finalizing today’s announced deal with Mexico, we write to ensure Florida’s agriculture community remains a priority. As you know, any trade agreement expecting “fast track” authority in Congress needs to meet certain parameters set out in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-26), also known as TPA, including “eliminating practices that adversely affect trade in perishable or cyclical products, while improving import relief mechanisms to recognize the unique characteristics of perishable and cyclical agriculture.”
To meet this requirement, you originally proposed a provision that would let regional growers use seasonal data for antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) cases. However, all indications point to this new agreement with Mexico not meeting these goals. We must stress that a final NAFTA deal that fails to live up to the promises of the Administration or fails to meet TPA guidelines, as set by Congress, will have a hard time winning Congressional approval.
Mexican growers have used every trick in the book to get around U.S. trade rules, much at the expense of Florida growers, who are uniquely impacted by such behavior. As we have previously written, Florida is one of the few places in the U.S. that can produce warm-weather fruits and vegetables in the winter, forcing our growers to bear the brunt of Mexican trade abuses. Without just relief, Mexican producers will continue to drive our growers out of business and eventually take full control of the U.S. market during the winter. We must ensure that such an outcome does not occur.
We respectfully request that you work diligently to ensure Florida’s agriculture community is fairly represented in the forthcoming trade deal with Mexico.