Rep. Austin Scott, GA Delegation Urge U.S. Trade Representative to Protect Georgia’s Specialty Crops in NAFTA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, led by Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), sent a bipartisan letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative (USTR), urging a separate domestic industry provision for perishable and seasonable products in antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings through North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations.
In recent years, the growth of Mexico’s fruit and vegetable sector has led to an excessive amount of dumping of fruits and vegetables into the United States below the cost of production. Mexico continues to unfairly subsidize its growers making it very difficult for many specialty crop producers to remain competitive.
“As one of the leading producers of fruits and vegetables in the country, the specialty crop industry is absolutely critical to our home state of Georgia. And while we grow the highest quality produce in the world and can compete in the global marketplace, our industry is hurting right now,” wrote the Members. “We applaud and greatly appreciate your efforts to seek measures consistent with this instruction for our seasonal and perishable crops to date, and urge your steadfast commitment to ensuring the vital unfair trade remedies are included in any final NAFTA agreement.”
In September 2017, Rep. Scott and Members of the Georgia Delegation sent a similar letter to Ambassador Lighthizer urging USTR to protect producers of specialty crops from foreign dumping of fruits and vegetables into U.S. markets. Click here to read more.
Joining Rep. Scott on the letter were Representatives Rick Allen (GA-12), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Buddy Carter (GA-01), Doug Collins (GA-09), Karen Handel (GA-06), Jody Hice (GA-10), and David Scott (GA-13).
May 18, 2018
The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th St NW,
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We write to reiterate our strong support for inclusion of measures to protect Georgia’s specialty crop industry, address current unfair trade practices, and mounting Mexican imports in any final renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
As members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, we are extremely concerned about the unprecedented growth in imports from Mexico as a result of their unfair subsidies and illegal seasoned dumping and the impact it is having domestically. The United States has an agriculture trade deficit with Mexico of around $5 billion, much of which is in the fruit and vegetable sector. Because Georgia and Mexico share a similar growing season and produce a number of the same specialty crops, Georgia producers have been hit particularly hard.
As one of the leading producers of fruits and vegetables in the country, the specialty crop industry is absolutely critical to our home state of Georgia. And while we grow the highest quality produce in the world and can compete in the global marketplace, our industry is hurting right now.
This is why any final agreements must allow our fruit and vegetable growers to use seasonal data to seek regional relief in anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases. We need to provide them with the necessary tools to make the case that Mexico is selling produce at unfairly low prices when certain crops are in season in a particular region.
Furthermore, failure to include such a provision would also be inconsistent with trade objectives clearly outlined by Congress in Trade Promotion Authority, which instructed our trade negotiators to “improve import relief mechanisms to recognize the unique characteristics of perishable and cyclical agriculture; and ensure that import relief mechanisms for perishable and cyclical agriculture are as accessible and timely to growers in the United States.”
We applaud and greatly appreciate your efforts to seek measures consistent with this instruction for our seasonal and perishable crops to date, and urge your steadfast commitment to ensuring the vital unfair trade remedies are included in any final NAFTA agreement.
We respectfully request an update on the current status of negotiations regarding these particular provisions, and appreciate your time and attention to this matter.
Representative Austin Scott
Representative Rick Allen
Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter
Representative Doug Collins
Representative Karen Handel
Representative Jody Hice
Representative David Scott