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Congressman Austin Scott

Representing the 8th District of Georgia

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Rep. Austin Scott, GA Delegation Members Fight for Specialty Crops

September 1, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, led by U.S. Representative Austin Scott (GA-08), sent a letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative, 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. Today’s letter urges the Trump Administration to address this discrepancy while the NAFTA agreement is being renegotiated.

“Mexico’s unfair trade practices have become unsustainable for Georgia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, and it is vital that the Administration considers using more near-term remedial tools to help correct these practices,” wrote the Members. “We applaud the Administration’s support for U.S. perishable and seasonal sectors and stand ready to work with the Administration on improving trade remedy coverage for these sectors and taking the other near-term steps needed to alleviate the Mexican unfair trading practices that are putting Georgia and other regions of our nation’s important fresh fruit and vegetable industry at risk.”

Supporters of today’s letter include the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the Georgia Blueberry Growers Association, Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and the Georgia Watermelon Association.

Joining Rep. Scott on today’s letter were Representatives Rick Allen (GA-12), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Buddy Carter (GA-01), Doug Collins (GA-09), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Karen Handel (GA-06), Jody Hice (GA-10), and David Scott (GA-13).

Click here to read today’s letter. Additionally, the text of today’s letter can be found below.

 

September 1, 2017

 

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

600 17th St NW,

Washington, DC  20006

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

As members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, we would like to express our support for the Administration’s goal included in the Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiations to seek “a separate domestic industry provision for perishable and seasonable products” in antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) proceedings.  That improvement is critically needed to ensure that the perishable and seasonal sectors in Georgia, the Southeast, and the broader nation have viable access to safeguards to address the unfair trading practices used by Mexican exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Mexico’s exponential growth in fresh fruit and vegetable exports to the United States under NAFTA has had a profoundly negative impact on Georgia and other regions of the country, resulting in a significant loss of agricultural cash receipts. To a great extent, Mexican fruit and vegetable producers have been able to achieve this extraordinary growth because of unfair Mexican subsidies and prices that are significantly below costs of production. 

The Administration’s new rules for seasonal and perishable products will ensure that these producers, who can only sell during certain periods of the year and are especially vulnerable to trade surges, have recourse to viable trade remedies when faced with unfair trade practice.  New rules of this nature will also help fulfill the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPAA) objectives, which call for “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.”

Mexico’s unfair trade practices have become unsustainable for Georgia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, and it is vital that the Administration considers using more near-term remedial tools to help correct these practices.  These include recourse to Department of Commerce AD/CVD self-initiation and monitoring authority and increased US Government advocacy to make clear to Mexico that its unfair pricing and subsidy practices are being monitored and will be subject to action if they continue.

We applaud the Administration’s support for US perishable and seasonal sectors and stand ready to work with the Administration on improving trade remedy coverage for these sectors and taking the other near-term steps needed to alleviate the Mexican unfair trading practices that are putting Georgia and other regions of our nation’s important fresh fruit and vegetable industry at risk.

 

Sincerely,

Representative Austin Scott

Representative Rick Allen

Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.

Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

Representative Doug Collins

Representative Drew Ferguson

Representative Karen Handel

Representative Jody Hice

Representative David Scott

 

cc:       Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture

            Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Department of Commence

            Ray Starling, White House Special Advisor for Agriculture and Trade

 

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