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USDBC Outlines Top Three Trade Policy Areas

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) continues to pursue an ambitious trade policy agenda into the third quarter of 2021 as key U.S. government trade personnel are confirmed and/or appointed. 
 
The organization is addressing numerous trade policy priorities around the globe, and has identified the top three as:
  1. Removal of EU/UK tariffs – U.S. dry bean imports to the EU and UK continue to face 25 percent retaliatory tariffs as a result of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. While the respective governments have agreed to suspend tariffs in the Airbus/Boeing dispute, the steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory response predates this and has not been resolved. USDBC has already sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and will be reaching out to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to ask for the suspension of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dry bean imports.
  2. Dominican Republic (DR) Adherence to Duty-Free, Quota-Free Imports – Since the full implementation of the CAFTA/DR trade agreement last year, U.S. dry beans imports can enter the Dominican republic duty-free with no limit to tonnage. While this should be beneficial to both sides, it has instead resulted in market protection mechanisms by the DR to limit the amount of U.S dry beans entering the country, especially during peak local harvest. This is in direct violation of the trade agreement. USDBC has been in long-standing talks with USDA/FAS Santo Domingo and will be meeting with USTR officials this week.
  3. Low or Zero-tolerance MRLs – USDBC remains concerned about the continued proliferation of low or zero MRLs/tolerances for pesticides/herbicides. Many of the most important export markets continue to veer away from Codex and impose unrealistic tolerances levels that will result in a disruption of trade. USDBC is particularly concerned about the EU and Mexico. An RFP to bring on a technical specialist to assist has been issued in a new initiative to help address this ongoing area of concern worldwide.

Dry Bean Scene

Even though all of the 2020 U.S. General Election results are still unknown, there are some things that are certain for agriculture. David Widmar of Agricultural Economic Insights and Randy Russell of The Russell Group have more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network.

Dry Bean Trade Policy Update

 
With so much going on in the world of trade policy for dry beans, the U.S. Dry Bean Council has provided a update:
 
China Phase One Agreement
A 5% reduction on dry bean retaliatory import duties to 38%, still not at levels previous to the ongoing trade dispute. We have also learned that Chinese importers can apply for an exemption to bring in U.S. dry beans at previous applied tariff rates.
 
US/UK Trade
Discussions continue on prospects for a US/UK trade agreement as the UK continues to define the terms of its trade regime during the transition Brexit year through the end of 2020. The UK government is holding a consultation period on its MFN tariff levels once Brexit is complete in 2021, this is open to comments through March 5, 2020.
 
US/EU Trade
There is renewed vigor to engage in trade discussions with the EU. Negotiations are starting up again behind the scenes while ongoing retaliatory tariffs remain in place.
 
CAFTA/DR
The CAFTA/DR trade agreement has reached full implementation for US Dry Beans. This means that all U.S. origin dry beans enter the Dominican Republic duty free with no limits on tonnage via TRQs. In many ways this opens the market to more bean imports from the U.S but it is also creating some roadblocks. We are addressing these with both the U.S. and DR governments to ensure full market access.

Dry Bean Leaders Visit Capitol Hill

Members of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and the North Central Bean Dealers were recently in Washington, D.C.

While there, they discussed the farm bill, agriculture trade and policy implications with Congressional delegates from Minnesota and North Dakota. Members also connected with USDA regarding bean procurement in the Food Aid Program.