U.S.: Trump 'favorably disposed' to Argentine lemon imports
U.S. President Donald Trump has reportedly told his Argentine counterpart he is reviewing the issue of lemon imports from the South American country, after his administration halted a measure to allow renewed shipments to the U.S.
Publication Bloomberg quoted Trump as saying, "I know all about the lemons" to reporters when greeting Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the White House on Thursday.
“We are reviewing that very seriously. We’re going to be very favorably disposed," he was quoted as saying.
Unblocking the freeze on lemon imports would represent a symbolic victory for Macri, who has pledged to open up Argentina after more than a decade of economic and geopolitical isolationism, Bloomberg reported.
The story reported Macri had known Trump for more than 30 years and was hoping to leverage that relationship to open up access for Argentine products in the U.S. market.
The Trump administration in January suspended a decision negotiated under former President Barack Obama to allow fresh lemons to be imported from Argentina after a 15-year hiatus.
The stay was extended on March 17, stoking concern in Argentina that Macri’s plans to open up and encourage trade would be foiled by Trump.
Argentina sold US$467 million of lemons abroad last year and exported US$61 million of lemon juice to the U.S.
The decision announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December to open up access to lemons from Northwest Argentina was met with a cold response from the California Citrus Mutual, which distributed a press release about the development with the headline “USDA Delivers Lump of Coal to California Lemon Growers for Christmas”.
Many California citrus growers have voiced concern over the risk of pests and/or diseases entering the country.