Human Flower Project
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Colombian Flowers: Duty-Free Again
The new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia went into effect yesterday. Colombian flowers are that country’s major export to the U.S. and have gobbled up the U.S. market since the early 1990s.
Sizing and sorting roses: a worker at Elite greenhouse in Facatativa, Colombia.
Interest in locally grown U.S. flowers is swelling into advocacy, “the 50-mile bouquet” gaining the moral high ground from organics (though many a producer who grows for nearby markets uses organic methods, too).
Meanwhile, the machineries of global government and big business roar ahead.
Yesterday, a shipment of 4,200 boxes filled with 1.2 million Colombian flowers arrived at Miami International Airport duty free. On May 15 the new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, a deal 12 years in the making, went into effect, and Colombia’s first export was a cargo plane of blooms from nine megafarms.
Colombian flowers had already “enjoy[ed] preferential tariffs” in the U.S. – part of a 20-year strategy to divert Colombian growers from coca production. Augusto Solano, president of the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, said that U.S. market now receives 76% of its exports.
But Miami Herald writer Mimi Whitefield explains that deal “lapsed last year just before Valentine’s Day and wasn’t renewed until October . In the meantime, Miami flower importers had to pay tariffs on flowers imported from Colombia and Ecuador, resulting in an extra $2.5 million a month in duties.”