A Rose Is A Rose Is A Trade Brouhana

It's the war of the roses. Domestic rose growers, their market share steadily eroded over the past two decades, say foreign imports are dumped below cost in the U.S.--so they're howling for tariff protection. Imported roses, mostly from Colombia and Ecuador, claim 55.6% of the U.S. market. And that has allegedly put some American producers out of business: There were 213 domestic rose growers at yearend 1993, down 5% from 1992.

To American growers, imported roses are inferior: They aren't as fresh, too often don't bloom, and rarely last more than a couple of days, says Tim Haley, president of the Floral Trade Council, the U.S. growers' trade group. The growers fear that, as a result, all roses will lose their storied cachet.

Importers, though, say the charges are just a mask for gross protectionism. "They've earned their place in the U.S. market through innovation and marketing," says Patrick Macrory, an attorney representing the Colombian Flower Council. Maybe, but the U.S. International Trade Commission recently unanimously agreed that the industry was being damaged. A final decision on whether to impose duties, and how much, is expected in early 1995.