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Cdn. berries could face U.S. tariffs

Cdn. berries could face U.S. tariffs

American officials are investigating if imports are hurting domestic producers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Some Canadian berries could be subject to U.S. tariffs depending on the outcome of an American investigation.

On Sept. 29, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate “the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury or threat thereof to domestic blueberry growers.”

The U.S. is focusing its investigation mostly on Mexican blueberries, but Canadian goods could be caught in the cross hairs.

If the ITC determines that blueberry imports are affecting American farmers negatively, the commission can make recommendations to President Trump on how to reverse those effects, which includes tariffs.

Currently, most blueberries enter the U.S. tariff-free.

Canada is among America’s top blueberry suppliers.

In 2019, the U.S. imported more than $115-million worth of Canadian blueberries. Only Peru, Chile and Mexico exported more.

Canadian industry reps are taking proactive measures while waiting for the U.S. investigation to unfold.

The B.C. Blueberry Council has hired a legal team but is hopeful the relationship between the U.S. and Canada will continue as normal.

“In response to the U.S. Global Safeguard Investigation on blueberries, the B.C Blueberry Council is working diligently along with the Canadian government to defend the interests of the British Columbia blueberry industry…” Anju Gill, executive director of the council, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “The Canadian and U.S. blueberry industry have a reciprocal trade relationship that we wish to maintain.”

Members of the U.S. government are asking the ITC to spare Canada from any potential tariffs or other barriers.

Imports of certain Canadian blueberries help the U.S. blueberry sector flourish.

Wild blueberries “arrive in a form not ready for consumption and are processed into a frozen product ready for distribution and sale,” reads a Sept. 17 letter signed by House Representatives and Senators from Maine. “These bulk imports do not harm Maine’s domestic growers of wild blueberries, but rather these operations allow many of Maine’s blueberry businesses to survive.”

Farms.com has reached out to industry groups and to Canada’s federal ag minister for comment.

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