The Miami Herald
Feb. 16, 2002

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
                      Washington-based publication.