The following press release was issued this afternoon by the Oregon Association of Nurseries:
Oregon Christmas tree growers praise end to retaliatory tariffs
Mexico has officially ended the last of the retaliatory tariffs imposed two years ago on American Christmas trees and other products being shipped into that country.
Mexico had imposed the long list of tariffs in March 2009, after U.S. officials discontinued a cross-border trucking pilot program promised as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 1994 and created the largest free-trade bloc in the world (U.S., Canada, Mexico). The standoff continued until earlier this year, when Mexico agreed to lift the tariffs once the U.S. resumed the pilot program.
Oregon Christmas tree growers praised the lifting of the tariffs. They credited the Obama administration, Mexican officials and key representatives in Congress for making it happen.
“We look forward to having renewed access to the Mexican market, so that the people once again can enjoy access to our real, high-quality, renewable Christmas tree crop as part of their family traditions,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN). “Oregon has the largest Christmas tree industry in the United States. Before this dispute, one-fourth of our Douglas fir trees were being shipped into Mexico, representing 11 percent of total Christmas tree sales. These 20 percent tariffs were very harmful to the Oregon economy, and we are glad to see them go.”
The OAN praised the efforts of Oregon’s federal legislators who played key roles in resolving the dispute, including Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). They created the political space for the administration to negotiate an end to the conflict. “The issues involved are very complex, but what is clear is that Oregon Christmas tree growers were being hurt,” said Kristin VanHoose, OAN president and owner of Amethyst Hill Nursery. “Our delegation in Congress worked hard for us, and we are grateful.”
On the national level, the OAN participated as part of the Alliance to Keep American Jobs, a coalition led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.