On September 1, 2020 the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), Department of Agriculture, and Department of Commerce issued a 32-page report outlining the Trump Administration’s plan to address increased foreign imports of perishable fruits and vegetables.  One of the actions included in the inter-agency plan was for USTR to request that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) initiate an investigation under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 to determine the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have harmed domestic blueberry producers.  As a result of the information obtained by the ITC through its hearings on the matter, USTR on September 29, 2020, requested that the ITC promptly initiate an investigation “. . . to determine whether fresh, chilled, or frozen blueberries are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury.”  The transcripts of the hearings, held on August 13 and August 20, 2020, are linked and can also be found on USTR’s website.

The blueberries identified by USTR in its request for investigation fall under the following subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”):

  • 0810.40.0029 (cultivated blueberries, including highbush, fresh or chilled);
  • 0810.40.0026 (certified organic blueberries, fresh or chilled);
  • 0810.40.0024 (wild blueberries, fresh or chilled);
  • 0811.90.2024 (wild blueberry, uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water, frozen);
  • 0811.90.2030 (blueberries, certified organic, cultivated (including highbush), uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water, frozen);
  • and 0811.90.2040 (blueberries, cultivated (including highbush), uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water, NESOI, frozen).

This investigation could potentially lead to additional actions with respect to imports of perishable fruits and vegetables.  Companies in this industry should closely monitor developments, and requests for investigations covering other perishable fruits and vegetables may soon follow.

Husch Blackwell continues to monitor the situation closely and will provide further updates as more information becomes available.  Should your company be affected by the ITC’s investigation into imports of blueberries, please contact our International Trade and Supply Chain team.