It’s a fantastic outcome for U.S. apple growers. This is what the industry says about the news that India is lifting its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. apples. While India has a 50 percent duty on all imported apples, the U.S. was hit with another 20 percent on apples in 2018.
Photo: Starr Ranch Growers
“The additional 20 percent tariff placed on apples from the USA was devastating to our export business to India,” says Steve Reinholt, Export Sales Manager at Starr Ranch Growers. “Having it removed is a great thing and we applaud all the effort that went into this positive outcome.”
The U.S. Apple Association also welcomed this development and the organization says it applauds the work of the Biden Administration and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that achieved this key development. In January, Washington State officials urged the Biden administration to help remove or reduce the tariffs on American apples imported to India given the U.S. apple industry had incurred significant losses due to the retaliatory measures.
Government supporting industry
“This came as a very wonderful surprise, one that we dared to hope for but did not expect,” said Scott Agnew, Director of Export Sales for CMI Orchards LLC. “We really do appreciate all the hard work that Representative (Kim) Schrier and Senator (Maria) Cantwell put into getting this tariff reduced. Our growers will greatly benefit from having a more level playing field in this market once again. We’ve already been in contact with importers in India and are excited to build new programs—not just for our Red Delicious apples, but for all our varieties.”
Photo: CMI Orchards LLC
“These kinds of negotiations between governments take a great deal of time and in this case (the industry) has lost much of our market share,” says Reinholt, who earlier this year noted that from the start of the 2022-2023 Washington apple season, the state’s entire industry had only shipped 12,500 boxes of apples to India. He also noted that the tariff is levied against the delivered costs in US$ so there’s a multiplier effect when taking higher product costs as well as freight increases and a strong U.S.$
While the news is welcome, it’s likely that hard work lies ahead for U.S. apple growers, particularly given that much of the market historically covered by the U.S. is now being covered by Eastern European producers like Poland and Turkey as well as Middle Eastern countries like Iran. “The consumers in India simply went to other shipping regions for their apple needs and those countries now have a firm grip on that business. We will compete and win back a good portion of that business but it will not happen quickly,” says Reinholt.