Three separate investigations are currently underway or expected shortly: a Global Safeguard investigation into blueberries (wild, highbush, fresh and frozen), and fact-finding investigations into bell peppers and strawberries. As the investigations have implications for products across production types including field and greenhouse, and all regions, several working groups at the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) are engaged says Rebecca Lee, executive director.
Blueberries: On Sept. 29, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launch a Section 201 Global Safeguard investigation into whether imports of blueberries are causing injury to domestic U.S. producers. On October 23, the USITC issued its foreign producer questionnaire, to which Canadian blueberry producers and exporters will be required to respond.
The USITC’s investigation will lead to a recommendation, in March 2021, as to whether the U.S. President should impose a duty or a quantitative restriction (such as a quota) on imports into the United States, including from Canada.
“In order to defend your interests and increase the likelihood that no such tariff or quota will be imposed, it is very important that Canadian producers fully participate in the investigation, by filling out the foreign producer questionnaire,” says Lee.
Growers and exporters should have received the questionnaire by now from USITC. It is complex and will require significant time and efforts to complete and the deadline is very short: November 16.
Bell peppers and strawberries: Section 332 fact-finding investigations into these two products are likely to be announced on October 27. These investigations are likely to transition into an expedited Section 201 Global Safeguard investigation, after a minimum of 90 days of monitoring. After this, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) could recommend to the President, within 21 days, that a provisional tariff or quota (among other measures) be applied to imports.
The CHC Greenhouse Working Group, Vegetable WG, and Berry WG have each been involved in industry calls to organize, look into the preliminary trade data, and options for U.S. legal counsel – supported with information provided by AAFC and Global Affairs Canada.
Source: Canadian Horticultural Council Member Note October 22, 2020.