Debating The Andean Trade Preference Act

With the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) set to expire December 31, executives from the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) and Association of Floral Importers of Florida offered testimony for and against ATPA before an independent federal agency that oversees international trade. Information from the hearing will help Congress decide whether to renew the act after it expires.

The ATPA provides duty-free entry into the United States for flowers coming from Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. If Congress decides not to renew the act, U.S. floral importers will have to pay duties on flowers entering the U.S. from those four countries.

The CCFC has never public opposed the ATPA, but Kasey Cronquist, executive director of the CCFC, says California growers have faced a significant decline in their share of the U.S. market since ATPA became law in 1991.

Market shares have dropped from 64 percent in 1991 to about 20 percent in 2007, Cronquist says. He admits that many U.S. businesses have benefited from an expanded trade relationship, but that many California growers have not.

Christine Boldt, executive director of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, offered much different testimony, arguing that about 22,000 floral industry jobs in import, wholesale and retail hinge on ATPA. She testified that the absence of a long-term ATPA renewal would make it difficult for Florida importers to conduct accurate cost and pricing analysis.

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