Industry experts claim that Washington apple growers are on the losing end of a trade feud between the US and India. Apples are Washington’s biggest crop; the state grows more than half of all domestic apples, and second place isn’t even close. It hasn’t been all cider and pies for growers in recent years, though. Some claim that large corporate growers have squeezed mid-sized orchards. Many smaller orchards have closed.
Also, Washington exports apples to dozens of countries and India was one of the biggest buyers. In 2019, that country placed retaliatory tariffs on American tree fruit in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs. Washington apple exports to India plummeted from $120 million to just $3 million last year.
In January, the state’s congressional delegation sent a bipartisan letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai urging the Biden administration to intervene. Senator Maria Cantwell took things even further in February during a trip to India. She brought up the tariffs with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said he was open to considering a free-trade agreement.