Falls Church, Va. — The U.S. Apple Association today joined more than 40 agriculture and food groups to call for the elimination or reduction of U.S. tariffs being imposed on other countries that in turn are harming U.S. agriculture through retaliatory tariffs. In a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the groups said America’s agriculture communities are suffering with higher fuel, machinery and input costs due to the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, inflation and the war on Ukraine, and compounded by decreased market access.
The U.S. apple industry has been hit particularly hard with the loss of exports, which had accounted for about $1 billion worth of apples annually, roughly one-third of the country’s crop. On the whole, the U.S. apple industry has seen a 19% loss of exports since 2018. The biggest of those losses is India, where exports have decreased by 86% (see chart). China follows with an 18% loss of exports.
“The retaliatory tariffs in response to the U.S.’s tariffs have crushed apple growers’ export sales,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “India had risen sharply in its imports of our apples to take over the number two spot of our export buyers. The China market had just fully opened to our apples in 2015 and had quickly risen to number six as an export destination. These two alone have cost growers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales, sales that are gone forever. We can only hope the administration takes quick action to help growers capture future sales.”
Prior to the retaliatory tariffs, India had been a promising growth market for U.S. apples. Exports to India the first nine months of 2017 more than doubled sales in 2016.The retaliatory tariffs by China on apples is also a significant concern as the U.S. apple industry had only gained full access to the market in 2015 and it was considered to have significant growth potential.
“The apple industry continues to grapple with the consequences of a trade war in which we were innocent bystanders,” said Bair. “Compound the past four years of lost market access with skyrocketing input and labor costs, all while apple prices are relatively stable unlike the daily stories of food price inflation, and it has suddenly become a perfect storm for apple growers. That’s why we are calling on the administration to put an end to the tariffs that are hurting U.S. growers and apple businesses.”