As part of the “Phase One” trade deal between the US and China, market access for Chinese citrus products was one requirement. However, US citrus growers, specifically those in Florida’s citrus industry sent a letter opposing the import of Chinese citrus. The main reasons for opposing citrus from China was the risk of invasive pests and diseases, specifically the fruit fly pest that may damage Florida citrus products and potentially damage other crops such as avocados, blueberries, peaches, peppers, persimmons and tomatoes.
In addition to natural risks, critics also cite the economic disadvantage of foreign competition during the COVID-19 crisis. The letter to the USDA also cited a topic covered previously on our blog – the dumping allegations of Mexican tomato growers. Florida tomato growers are already impacted by the competition of Mexican tomatoes, and the last thing tomato growers need to worry about is the risk of invasive pests from potential imports of Chinese citrus products.
Other opponents to the Phase One trade deal allowing access to Chinese citrus producers include Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Department of Agricultre and Consumer Services and the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association.
While there is strong opposition to these imports, the opposition will likely not be enough to change Phase One of the trade deal.