USITC to monitor bell pepper, strawberry imports

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USITC to monitor bell pepper, strawberry imports

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has instituted two investigations into U.S. imports of fresh or chilled strawberries and bell peppers.

The "monitoring factfinding investigations" were requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter received on Nov. 4, 2020.

Such investigations could lead to market barriers such as tariffs being imposed.

The U.S. imported $871 million of fresh strawberries in 2019, of which 99 percent came from Mexico, according to International Trade Center data.

And of the $1.8 billion of fresh bell peppers it imported, 72 percent came from Mexico while 19 percent came from Canada.

In the Nov. 4 letter, the USTR noted that the monitoring request for bell peppers and strawberries was made in accordance with the perishable agricultural product provisions of the global safeguard law. 

"The provisions state that if the USITC has monitored imports of a perishable agricultural product for at least 90 days, the domestic industry may file a petition for a global safeguard investigation that includes a request for a preliminary determination and provisional relief pending completion of the full Commission investigation," the USITC said in a Dec. 2 statement.

More information concerning the provisions can be found in the Background section of the Commission’s notices of institution of monitoring investigations for fresh or chilled strawberries and fresh or chilled bell peppers.

The USITC will collect and analyze information on U.S. imports of fresh or chilled strawberries and bell peppers.

The products identified for monitoring in USTR’s request letter are all products that fall under the following statistical reporting categories in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States:

  • for strawberries: 0810.10;
  • for bell peppers: 0709.60.40.15, 0709.60.40.25, 0709.60.40.65, 0709.60.40.85.

The USITC is seeking input for the investigation from all interested parties in the form of written submissions for the record.

The announcement comes amid a separate Section 201 global safeguard investigation into blueberry imports.

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