The United States could extend the current monitoring to strawberry and bell pepper imports originating in Mexico, which opens the possibility of establishing safeguards against these products, warned a Mexican Senate commission.
At the same time, Juan Flores, general director of the National Association of Berries Exporters (Aneberries), reported that investigations 201 and 332 of blackberries and raspberries concluded last year without the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) having found no harm, while the strawberry investigation is still going on.
Aneberries has led, from the private sector, the corresponding research on strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Regarding bell peppers and strawberries from Mexico, on November 4, 2020, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) requested to initiate two investigations based on Section 332 and establish an import monitoring system. bell pepper and strawberry.
On December 7, 2020, the USITC put into operation the aforementioned import monitoring system that, according to US law, could be extended until December 7, 2022.
“Although the Mexican government and the national industry have given timely follow-up to the investigations on pumpkin and cucumber, the reports presented on January 6 may encourage the adoption of policies or measures that affect Mexico’s exports,” the Commission said. Special Follow-up to the Implementation of the T-MEC (CESITMEC) of the Senate of Mexico.
For CESITMEC, this monitoring opens the possibility for the US industry to request the initiation of safeguard investigations and the imposition of provisional measures against these Mexican products.
From January to November 2021, Mexican strawberry exports to the United States were 911 million dollars, while bell pepper exports totaled 1,027 million, according to USITC data.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) eliminated most non-tariff barriers in agricultural trade with Mexico, including import licensing requirements, through conversion to quotas or ordinary tariffs.
Tariffs were phased out over 15 years, with sensitive products such as sugar and corn receiving the longest phase-out periods.
About half of the agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico became duty-free when the agreement went into effect in 1994.
Before NAFTA, most tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico were, on average, quite low, although some US exports to Mexico faced tariffs as high as 12 percent.
However, about a quarter of US agricultural exports to Mexico (by value) were subject to restrictive import licensing requirements, according to a US Congressional report.
A decade ago, in all of 2011, Mexican exports of strawberries to the United States were 235 million dollars and those of bell pepper, 390 million.