Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson continue their campaign for a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement that would allow growers to seek seasonal trade protection from imports.
Rubio and Nelson wrote a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on April 6, stating their support of a renegotiated NAFTA centers on allowing growers “to use seasonal data to seek regional relief in antidumping and countervailing duties.”
The provision, supported by the Trump administration and included in NAFTA talks by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, has been rebuffed by trade representatives from Canada and Mexico.
In the letter, the senators said the expanded exports enabled by NAFTA is a “great result for American farmers.” But Florida growers have been “systemically undercut” by subsidized Mexican growers, poor labor standards and seasonal dumping, according to the letter.
Rubio and Nelson said the proposal would allow growers to more effectively challenge against unfair trade practices.
“These benefits are not theoretical – just last week Florida's bell pepper growers were denied protection from egregious Mexican dumping when the Department of Commerce declined to self-initiate an anti-dumping case,” according to the senators’ letter.
Trade task force
Rubio plans to co-sponsor a Senate bill that would establish a task force that would also seek similar trade safeguards. The Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act, introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., would establish a task force within the international trade administration, according to a news release.
“The task force would identify imports with the potential to threaten domestic industries, conduct research and make recommendations with the respect to initiating trade enforcement actions,” according to the release.