The electoral factor in the importation of Latin American blueberries to the US

The president would have the authority to proclaim an imposition of any duty on the imported item, or a tariff quota on blueberries, or the imposition of any quantitative restriction on the importation of the product into the United States.

The Trump administration has asked the International Trade Commission to open an investigation into Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, to clarify whether the surge in blueberry imports in recent years has hurt US producers.

This instrument grants the president of the United States broad authority to impose tariffs with a view to protecting the national industry, which is why his administration has resorted to it with the aim of achieving a "global safeguard."

Donald Trump has stated that the action of Section 201 is much more effective, because this instrument is in charge of investigating imports from all countries and is not a specific investigation for a particular country.

Electoral background

The measure is being promoted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, at the express request of Donald Trump, and joins another recent request for investigation for shipments of Mexican blueberries.

Clearly, this management of the president of the United States is part of the electoral campaign ahead of the presidential election next November, and the maneuver is aimed at winning over the producers of Georgia, Michigan and Florida, all the states in which Trump faces strong competition in his bid for reelection.

The figures of the increase

In any case, any measure, resolution or commercial restriction on the entry of Latin American blueberries to the US market as a result of the investigation, would take place after the November elections.

According to reports, US imports of blueberries since 2005 have risen from roughly 50 million pounds to almost 400 million pounds in 2018, which is an increase of around 700%.

Regarding the import values ​​of the fruit, this has skyrocketed in the last five years, growing from USD 530, corresponding to the total imports of blueberries in 272, to a much higher figure in imports of 057, for a total of USD 2014.

According to the United States Census Bureau, this growth in the value of blueberry imports to the US market more than doubled, with shipments from five countries accounting for more than 98% of total imports:

  • Peru, from US $ 12.613.651 (2014) to US $ 485.261.673 (2019)
  • Chile, from US $ 260.465.178 (2014) to US $ 313.017.358 (2019)
  • Mexico, from US $ 76.158.740 (2014) to US $ 291.060.437 (2019)
  • Canada, from US $ 101.928.691 (2014) to US $ 115.988.405 (2019)
  • Argentina, from US $ 69.041.154 (2014) to US $ 33.257.806 (2019)
  • Others, from US $ 10.064.643 (2014) to US $ 3.517.364 (2019)

If the alleged damage to US producers is proven, President Donald Trump “is authorized to take all measures in his power to facilitate the efforts of the national industry to make a positive adjustment to import competition, including the increase of tariffs and limitations ”. 

As an example, if the investigation reaches conclusions that ratify the claim of damage to the local industry, Donald Trump would have the authority to proclaim an imposition of any duty on the imported article, or a tariff quota on blueberries, or the imposition of any quantitative restriction on the importation of the product into the United States. It can also apply adjustment measures, or negotiate with the countries to limit the export of the fruit or the import to the United States of said product, among other various powers that the president has to protect local producers in the United States market. United, turning to Congress if it deems it necessary.

Source
Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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