ILA, Wal-Mart back Chilean grape petition
The leading U.S. East Coast dock labor union and the largest U.S. retailer have thrown their support behind an industry coalition petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to suspend for up to 20 days in April restrictions on all Chilean table grapes imports.
'The International Longshoremen's Association is 100 percent behind the petition,' said Richard P. Hughes Jr., ILA president, in a statement Tuesday. 'We've forged close relationships with our business partners in Chile, and they deserve our full support in their time of need.'
Wal-Mart sent a letter to the USDA in support of the petition. So far, the Wal-Mart Foundation has donated $1 million for emergency relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Chile.
The March 9 petition, organized by the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, specifically asks for a 10- to 20-day suspension from April 10 to April 30 of Table Grape Regulation 4, which annually limits the import of Chilean grapes after April 10.
The coalition has requested the petition on 'humanitarian grounds,' noting the Feb. 27 earthquake that rocked Chile damaged port facilities and transportation infrastructure needed to transport the South American country's grape harvest.
'Chile is the main source of grapes for the U.S. from December through April. The current (USDA) marketing order requires that grapes meet a certain standard as a condition for entry, and would make it difficult for grapes to enter the U.S. market after April 10,' Wal-Mart said in its letter.
'Given the devastation and halt in exports, we support the request of the governmental authorities and trade associations of the Delaware River region that the table grape marketing order be suspended for 10 days from April 10 to 20 of this year,' the retailer said.