In late July, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US sent a letter to the General Counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), saying it “strongly supports USTR tariff action against EU frozen fries.”
In the letter, NPC says in order to ensure the action is an appropriate enforcement mechanism, it is critically important that such action be broadened to include frozen fries from Belgium and the Netherlands, in addition to those countries already outlined.
NPC points out that in recent years, imports of EU frozen fries have increased substantially. “In 2015, imports of EU frozen fries stood at approximately 15,700MT with a value of $12.2 million,” the NPC says in the letter. “In 2019, EU fry imports were approximately 87,000 MT with a value of $101.2 million dollars. This represents a 500 percent increase in volume and more than 600 percent increase in value of EU frozen fry imports over the past five years.”
The NPC goes on to say that “This trend is driven overwhelmingly by lower cost imports from Belgium and the Netherlands, which combined account for approximately 90 percent of all EU frozen fry imports to the United States. The price disparity is impacted by a range of factors, including EU agriculture policies that give EU potato growers advantages that U.S. farmers do not have.”
“The result is that the considerable influx of product from Belgium and the Netherlands poses a growing challenge to U.S. potato farmers and makes it difficult for U.S. suppliers to compete with lower cost imported product from these two countries.”
According to the NPC, the situation has been compounded in recent months as a result of the COVID-19 virus, which has led to a notable decrease in potato prices in major production centers, particularly the European Union. This reduction in prices has further contributed to an influx of EU frozen fries, particularly from Belgium and the Netherlands, and placed further pressure on the U.S. potato industry at an unprecedented and challenging time.
The NPC letter was undersigned by Kam Quarles, CEO of the NPC. Read the full letter here.