President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imports of certain steel and aluminum products from Canada on May 31, 2018. In response, Canada may impose similar surtaxes, as will Mexico. While field cucumbers are on the list of tariffs to be imposed upon the U.S. Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) says he’s hopeful that the fresh fruit and vegetable sector flies under the radar. Ottawa says it will levy $16.6 billion in retaliatory surtaxes against its largest trading partner on July 1 if Washington does not repeal its policy.
Canada has its own vibrant and dynamic produce industry; Lemaire says the challenge is that, even though the country grows fruits and vegetables through the local season, the Canadian marketplace – and consumer – is a global consumer and has a need for a year-round supply of fresh produce that has to be sourced elsewhere.
“Because of the interconnected and integrated community we work within in the fresh fruit and veg sector, as soon as you start looking at a tariff model the losers at the end of the day are the industry that’s affected by the tariffs and the consumer that’s going to pay more,” says Lemaire.
Canada’s plans for 25 per cent tariffs include products chosen to achieve maximum political impact. Canada has chosen to include Florida orange juice – a Republican stronghold -- and field (pickling) cucumbers from Wisconsin. That’s the home state for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Lemaire says Mexico plans to impose retaliatory tariffs on apples and grapes, among other goods.
“As soon as you apply a tariff-based approach there are always winners and losers and in an integrated market that we function within we need to rely on a common approach and a non-tariff framework to support an entire sector,” he says.