Washington~ CPA released a report today finding soaring levels of imports and little or no increase in exports of fruits and vegetables despite “free” trade agreements. US fruit and vegetable trade performance has gone from nearly balanced trade in the early 1990’s to a massive $11.4 billion deficit in 2015.
U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Trade (Excluding Nuts), 1990-2015
“Trade agreements, and especially NAFTA, have enabled foreign fruit and vegetable exporters to take advantage of our open borders at the expense of American producers,” said Jeff Ferry, CPA Research Director.
The US avocado industry has been the most affected as US production fell by 34% even while domestic consumption skyrocketed by 368% in recent decades. Imports dominated with an 85% share of the US avocado consumption.
Grapes and tangerines follow the path as they too have seen significant loss of domestic market share.
Since implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, US producers’ share of the domestic market in avocados, cucumbers grapes, limes, pineapples, and tomatoes has been seriously eroded, even as domestic consumption grew strongly.
“Trade agreements have proven irrelevant at best and harmful at worst to American farmers struggling to make a living,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “Our agricultural members know that past trade policy has been crafted for the benefit of the import lobby rather than US producers.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will hold a hearing on the administration’s NAFTA renegotiation plans on June 27, 2017. CPA will testify at the hearing and be actively engaged in the effort to determine whether NAFTA can improved or should be scrapped.