Amid reports that the United States and Mexico have reached a tentative NAFTA deal, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged the Trump administration to protect Florida farmers before finalizing the trade agreement with Mexico.
The senators’ request came in a letter sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
“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,” Nelson and Rubio wrote. “We respectfully request that you work diligently to ensure Florida’s agriculture community is fairly represented in the forthcoming trade deal with Mexico.”
“This deal throws Florida’s fruit and vegetable farmers under the bus with no additional protections against Mexican dumping,” Nelson said of the deal announced today. “I am very disappointed in the administration’s agreement with Mexico because, without changes, a lot of growers may go out of business.”
The full text of the letter is below and a .pdf is available here.
August 27, 2018
The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
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.