Moses Lake, WA 98837, USA

Removal of steel, aluminum tariffs is good news for Washington apple industry

By RICHARD BYRD
Managing Editor

WENATCHEE — The news regarding the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs by the United States government was met well by the Washington apple industry.

On May 24 an agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico was struck which resulted in the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs by the U.S., which also meant the removal of retaliatory tariffs that were imposed in June 2018 on imported U.S. goods.

The elimination of the 20 percent tariff on apples shipped to Mexico is big news for Washington’s apple industry, as Washington is responsible for 90-95 percent of all U.S. apple exports and Mexico is the state’s number one export market, with 13 million boxes shipped to the country each year, according to a release from the Washington Apple Industry (WAI). As a whole, Washington exports about a third of its apple crop to over 60 markets around the globe.

“Washington is entering the last few months of the export season but demand for Washington apples in Mexico is strong year-round. Duty-free access will have a positive impact on shipments and benefit apple growers,” stated the WAI.

Smaller crop volume and trade barriers played a big part in the reduction of apple shipments to foreign markets. Exports to Mexico are down 29.3 percent compared to the 2017-18 season, with exports decreased by 32.7 percent overall. The new agreement includes a key provision that states any retaliation with regard to steel and aluminum in the future will be limited to steel and aluminum only, which will provide some defense for the apple industry.

“It has been a season of challenges with the industry facing a 20 percent duty into Mexico, a 50 percent duty into China and ongoing threats of India implementing a 25 percent duty. The opportunity to wrap up the season with one of the major markets returning to free trade is encouraging for the upcoming season,” said Communications Outreach Coordinator Toni Lynn Adams.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at rbyrd@columbiabasinherald.com.

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