At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., applauded the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) announcement “adding fresh cut roses to the list of products eligible for preferential treatment under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP).”
The congressman, who led two letters to the USTR on the matter with the support of most of the Florida delegation, weighed in on the news on Friday.
“The cut flowers industry is a critical component of Florida’s economy,” said Diaz-Balart. For years now, they have been adversely affected by onerous and unnecessary fees on imported cut roses even though they support more than 6,000 jobs in South Florida— the floral gateway in the U.S. Adding fresh cut roses to the list of GSP-eligible products not only ensures that U.S consumers and businesses are no longer burdened with costly duties, but it promotes jobs and economic activity in our state. I thank U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer for allowing this to happen. I also commend the Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF) for continuously safeguarding the interests of South Florida fresh cut flower importers, and I look forward to seeing the positive economic impact this will have in the United States.”
Diaz-Balart pointed to a study from the Association of Floral Importers of South Florida (AFIF) which showed adding roses to the GSP will save flower importers $15 million a year, which benefits the Sunshine State.
“About 90 percent of the flowers that enter the US enter through South Florida, then go to importer facilities before being transported throughout the US,” the congressman’s office noted. “In 2019 there were more than 2.3 billion stems of roses that were imported. Roses are the number one flowers that US consumers know and choose.”
Christine Boldt, the executive vice president of AFIF, thanked Diaz-Balart for his efforts.
We are very thankful for all of the work and support that Congressman Diaz-Balart has provided to the flower industry in leading the effort to have Congressional members sign letters urging USTR to grant the petition to have roses added to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),” said Boldt. “With the flower importers not having to pay the duties we can hire more people and support efforts to sell more flowers to more people throughout the US. Congressman Diaz-Balart has always been a great supporter of the flower importing industry and the businesses that support this very important industry in South Florida.”
First elected to Congress in 2002, Diaz-Balart is already assured of another term in Congress as he does not face any challengers on Election Day on Tuesday.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.