Agriculture Press Release

June 4, 1999

Trade Agreements Must Be Fair, Crawford Urges

WINTER HAVEN Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today urged federal trade officials to insist that any future trade agreements treat Florida agriculture fairly.

"Trade is vital to our industry, and we need to make sure that future trade agreements are fair to our growers," Crawford said.

Crawfords comments were made at a meeting here today for key trade officials with the U.S. Trade Representatives Office (USTR) and USDA to hear the concerns of Floridas agribusiness community over upcoming trade talks that will shape future international trade.

Among federal officials making comments at todays session were Ambassador Susan Esserman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative; Dr. Isi Siddiqui, Trade Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman; and Pat Sheikh, Deputy Administrator for International Trade Policy at USDAs Foreign Agricultural Service.

An estimated 300 to 400 representatives of Floridas agriculture industry attended the day-long session. The meeting is the first of 12 throughout the country that USTR and USDA will hold prior to the November 30-December 3 Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, which kicks off the next round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

Crawford said that his top priorities in the upcoming talks are special rules for perishable products, expanded market access for Florida agricultural products, tariff equivalency, rapid dispute resolution and strict adherence to plant and animal pest and disease standards.

On the subject of market access, Crawford noted that numerous countries that

trade with the United States do not permit selected Florida agricultural commodities, or in some cases any crops produced in Florida, to be exported there. Among countries falling into that category are Mexico, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, China and Japan.

"It is simply unacceptable that a large number of these nations do not allow marketing of U.S. agricultural products, " Crawford said. "Any further multilateral negotiations need to make market access for U.S. products a mandatory provision of the agreement."

Crawford also insisted that countries with plant pests and diseases that would jeopardize Florida crops be excluded from shipping agricultural products to the U.S., noting that Florida alone has spent more than $140 million during the last four years eradicating plant pests and diseases that have been brought into Florida from abroad.

By the same token, however, Crawford argued that prohibiting a country from shipping its products to another country because of pest and disease problems must be based on sound science, claiming that some foreign countries use that excuse to prohibit U.S. products from being shipped there without any scientific foundation.


For more information:

Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022

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