Falls Church, Va.—A delegation of New York apple growers are on Capitol Hill today meeting with congressional members to highlight critical trade matters affecting the industry. Taking time away from the start of a busy harvest, their message is strong, “The recent trade agreement with Mexico is a good first step toward regaining that market, but so far it doesn’t diminish the barrier.”
As U.S. apple’s top export market, Mexico is critical to American apple growers. Apples have been a big winner under NAFTA. Prior to the agreement, Mexico imposed a 20 percent tariff on U.S. apples. But with duty free access, Mexico became the industry’s largest export market, quadrupling apple sales to $291 million in 2017.
This past March, in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, known as Section 232, Mexico hit the U.S. apple industry with a 20 percent tariff. While the U.S. Apple Association and its New York growers welcome the retention of duty free access in the new NAFTA replacement agreement, the effort won’t rid the retaliatory Section 232 tariffs plaguing the industry. Further, Canada is not yet a party to the new agreement. As the industry’s number three export market, USApple says it needs to be.
“While we appreciate this initial first step by the Administration, growers are still faced with a 20 percent barrier to our largest market,” said USApple Board Chair and President of New York Apples Sales Kaari Stannard. “One out of three apples grown is destined for export with a value of more than a billion dollars annually, so trade is critical to the apple industry. That’s especially true in states like New York where rural economies rely on a healthy agriculture sector, of which apple exports play a significant role.”
The organization is also concerned the new agreement with Mexico eliminates the so-called Chapter 19 resolution process that works to ensure fairness in the event of a dispute. Without Chapter 19, U.S. growers would have to work through Mexican courts, not an independent panel selected, in part, by the U.S.
“The apple harvest is just kicking off across America and that’s normally a season of enthusiasm,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “But this year the impact of disputes with Mexico, India, Canada and China, our number one, two, three and six export markets, will be felt deeply across the industry. Our growers want Congress to know the damage being caused in their jurisdictions by these trade disputes.”
The U.S. Apple Association is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry. Members include 40 state and regional associations representing the 7,500 apple growers throughout the country, as well as more than 400 individual firms involved in the apple business. More information on the organization is available atUSApple.org.