B.C. Blueberry Growers Await U.S. Decision on Tariffs
February 10, 2021
Blueberry growers in British Columbia are eager to learn the outcome of a U.S. International Trade Commission decision this week on the question of whether American blueberry producers have been harmed by imports from countries like Canada.
Since September, the threat of tariffs or quotas on the majority of the province’s blueberry exports has loomed. On Thursday, the USITC will vote to either proceed with determining what those will be, or determine there has not been harm from imported blueberries and the issue will go away.
The National Farmers Union claims that between 2015 and 2019, growers’ operating returns fell by 32.4%. The statement names Canada, along with Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina as countries responsible for the increased imports to the U.S.
But according to Anju Gill, the executive director for the B.C. Blueberry Council, that surge isn’t coming from British Columbia, which grows about 95% of Canada’s highbush blueberries. There’s a wild blueberry industry based in Eastern Canada.
Gill added that B.C. and the U.S. share a very close relationship when it comes to blueberries, with an even and reciprocal amount of berries crossing the border in both directions most years.
The USITC process is what’s known as a Section 201 Global Safeguard investigation. Unlike World Trade Organization disputes, it’s undertaken by an agency within the U.S. government and it doesn’t look into conditions like subsidies that make international trade unfair — just whether a U.S. industry is suffering as a result of imports