Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez Joins Washington State Delegation in Requesting Assistance to Remove Harmful Tariffs on WA Apples by India

Jan 11, 2023
Press

Today, U.S. Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D, WA-03) and the entire Washington state Congressional delegation, including Senator Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Murray (D-WA), and Representatives DelBene (D, WA-01), Larsen (D, WA-02), Newhouse (R, WA-04), McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-05), Kilmer (D, WA-06), Jayapal (D, WA-07), Schrier (D, WA-08), Smith (D, WA-09), and Strickland (D, WA-10), in requesting help from the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Commerce to remove harmful tariffs by India on Washington state apples. The letter comes at the same time as an important Trade Policy Forum (TPF) with India this week.

The members said, “The TPF provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. Trade Representative and the Government of India to discuss retaliatory tariffs that are hurting tree fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest and nationally. It is important to use this forum to work towards a solution that will allow the tree fruit industry to remain viable and continue to produce tree fruit domestically.”

In the letter, the members point out that the tree fruit industry has suffered significant losses due to India’s retaliation. For example, prior to the implementation of these tariffs, India was Washington’s number two export market, valued at $120 million annually. Last season, growers exported barely $3 million. The members also mention in the letter that the tariffs come at an already difficult time for farmers and growers in Washington state, with costs rising and multi-generation farms going out of business.

The letter concludes, “The damage inflicted by the retaliatory tariffs on tree fruit growers, their employees, and communities is clear and a solution is long overdue. On behalf of the many stakeholders throughout our region, we appreciate your attention to this matter. Following the TPF, we request that you meet with members of the Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry to discuss the next steps to remove the retaliatory tariffs.”

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Ambassador Tai and Secretary Raimondo:

We request your assistance to remedy burdensome tariffs imposed by the Government of India on U.S. tree fruit industry at the upcoming Trade Policy Forum (TPF.) The TPF provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. Trade Representative and the Government of India to discuss retaliatory tariffs that are hurting tree fruit growers in Washington state and nationally. It is important to use this forum to work towards a solution that will allow the tree fruit industry to remain viable and continue to produce tree fruit domestically.

The tree fruit industry has suffered significant losses due to India’s retaliation for U.S. Section 232 tariffs. On average, 30 percent of the apples, cherries, and pears produced in the Pacific Northwest are exported and India was once a strong market. With retaliatory tariffs in place, Washington state apples growers have continuously lost market share in India. Prior to the implementation of these tariffs, India was our number two export market, valued at $120 million annually. Last season, growers exported barely $3 million. As growers have watched hard-earned market share and sales evaporate, their competitors in other countries have gained more of the market share.

Continued export losses coincide with ongoing cost-of-production increases that are forcing multigenerational family farms out of business. The Red Delicious variety accounts for nearly all the exports to India. Families operating legacy Red Delicious orchards, many of whom may not have the financial capacity to modernize their orchards, are disproportionately affected by the tariffs. This year the Red Delicious crop is the lowest since 1968. Corporate, out-of-state, entities are acquiring and consolidating larger operations, while smaller farms simply go out of business.

The damage inflicted by the retaliatory tariffs on tree fruit growers, their employees, and communities is clear and a solution is long overdue. On behalf of the many stakeholders throughout our region, we appreciate your attention to this matter. Following the TPF, we request that you meet with members of the Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry to discuss the next steps to remove the retaliatory tariffs.

Sincerely,

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