Andeans get break on duties
90-day relief for flower importers
BY JANE BUSSEY
The Bush administration on Friday gave Andean countries a 90-day reprieve
from paying Customs
duties on imports of flowers and other products.
The executive measure allows a series of imports to continue to enter the
United States duty-free until
Congress has time to renew and expand the tariff benefits granted to four South American countries
under the Andean Trade Preferences Act.
The temporary duty deferral will bring relief for Miami importers of fresh-cut
flowers from Colombia and
Ecuador, where the biggest name importer is Dole Fresh Flowers. Flowers are the biggest import by
volume at Miami International Airport. Other duty-free products are oil, minerals, coffee and bananas.
The trade preferences program was introduced 10 years ago to encourage
the countries to move from
cocaine exports to products like flowers and bananas. The program expired on Dec. 4, 2001.
In explaining the executive decision in the Federal Register, the Bush
administration cited the
``national security interest.''
The trade-preferences act ''is a crucial element of our counter-narcotics
and counterterrorism strategy
in the Andean region,'' National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice wrote House Ways & Means
Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.). The letter was cited by Inside US Trade, a