Are Shortages in Produce or Seafood Being Caused by NAFTA?

Some wonder if empty shelves at the grocery store are being caused by trade wars

We’ve become accustomed to produce departments in grocery stores overflowing with a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. No matter the time of year in Houston, juicy, ripe apples and fresh lettuce are always in season in some part of the world, and are being shipped to our neighborhoods in abundance.

But some people have noted that the shelves aren’t always as full as they used to be, and it’s not just the stores. Warehouses don’t have the ample supplies they boasted just a short time ago, causing shoppers to wonder if changes in the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, or tariffs on Chinese goods, are to blame. No, says Dr. Michael Davis, a Senior Lecturer with Southern Methodist University who specializes in economics and trade. “It’s becoming harder and harder to hire people to do anything, and especially is becoming harder to find immigrants who are willing to do that really difficult, hard work of tending to crops,” he suggests. That, he advises, could lead to more shortages.

Davis says until new trade agreements are hashed out and signed NAFTA remains in effect, so proposed changes haven’t impacted supply or demand of products from Mexico yet. “If we don’t get a deal signed then there is going to be big changes in the market for things like produce. You may still be able to find produce in your grocery store – in fact you probably will, it’s just that it will be insanely expensive.”

On Wednesday more than 80 trade organizations banded together to form a coalition to oppose increases in tariffs, pledging a multi-media advertising campaign and “war room” rapid response office denouncing proposals as they are made public.

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