Remaining tariffs will be lifted within five business days from the date on which the first Mexican carrier receives authorization under the new program, which could be in late summer, Powers said.
The lower tariffs will boost pear sales to Mexico, said Dave Whiteside, salesman for Borton & Sons Inc., Yakima.
Mexico was the top export market for pears from 2006 through 2009, but retaliatory tariffs dropped U.S. pear exports from $72 million in 2008 to $43 million in 2010.
However, exports in the January through May period of 2011 — even before the tariffs were halved — were up 12% compared with 2010.
Canada also is a strong market for Northwest pears.
Export statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that Canada was the top export market for pears in 2010, importing $49.7 million — or nearly one-third of all U.S. pear exports. Shipments of pears to Canada from January through May were up 7% in 2011 compared with year-ago levels.
Pear exports comprise a significant portion of total sales for Northwest shippers.
“Most of the real growth is in exports,” said Randy Steensma, president and export marketing director for Nuchief Sales Inc., Wenatchee.
Looking Far East
While Mexico and Canada are huge markets for U.S. pears, growth is also occurring on the other side of the globe.
Asian markets, the Indian market and Russian Far East are growing markets for anjous, Steensma said.
And the cheaper dollar will help the introduction of pears into markets at an affordable level, he said.
Beside strong shipments to Mexico and Canada, Domex Superfresh Growers also is seeing growing acceptance of Northwest pears in Asia, said Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for the Yakima-based firm, which exports about a third of its volume.
“Export business makes sense with the low-valued U.S. dollar and the likelihood of a small size profile this year,” said Steve Clement, general manager with Sage Fruit LLC, Yakima, Wash.