Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) formally requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) initiate a Section 201 global safeguard investigation regarding imports of blueberries into the United States.
The American Blueberry Growers Alliance (“ABGA”) applauds USTR’s request and expects that the investigation will result in a remedy that allows the domestic industry to recover from the harmful effects of surging blueberry imports.
The ABGA is an ad hoc association of blueberry growers from across the United States. Over the past few years, ABGA’s members have lost market share and sales to massive increases in imports and have been forced to accept unreasonably low prices due to the competing prices of foreign blueberries. Imports of fresh and frozen blueberries have increased from 423 million pounds in 2015 to over 684 million pounds in 2019. Recognizing the harm that American blueberry growers have faced and will continue to face, USTR previously committed to request a Section 201 investigation on blueberries as part of the plan of multiple federal agencies announced on September 1, 2020 to help U.S. farmers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.
“On behalf of U.S. blueberry growers, I want to thank the Administration for taking this critical action. The flood of foreign imports of blueberries has caused significant damage to growers from coast-to-coast and across the heartland of this country,” stated Jerome Crosby, Chair of the American Blueberry Growers Alliance. “At a time when domestic food security is especially critical, this action is essential to preserve American farms, our families’ way of life, and our communities, and we look forward to working with the ITC in conducting its investigation.”
The ITC will immediately commence its investigation to determine whether the U.S. blueberry industry is seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports. The ITC must make this determination within 120 days of receiving USTR’s request, and this period may be extended to 150 days in extraordinarily complicated cases. The ITC will issue a report with its findings to the President of the United States within 180 days of receiving USTR’s request.
If the ITC’s injury determination is affirmative, the ITC will recommend one or more remedies to the President. Available temporary remedies include tariffs, quotas, and a combination of tariffs and quotas, among other options. The President will then decide whether to grant relief and what the remedy will entail.