Trade sources worry that U.S. exporters of fruit and other commodities may face inspection delays and other non-tariff barriers after the latest round of tariffs imposed on China by the Trump administration.
Counting retaliatory tariffs this year, China’s tariffs on fresh fruit and nuts now mostly range from 50% to 60% of the import value.
Trade action and reaction
In what was termed by U.S. trade officials as the “continuing response to China’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of American technology,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs.
The additional tariffs will be effective Sept. 24, and initially will be in the amount of 10%. In January, tariffs increase to 25%.
The latest U.S. tariff list targeting Chinese imports includes fresh mushrooms, garlic and a wide variety of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.
Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch said in a news release that it supports the imposition of tariffs on imports of Chinese garlic.
“In broad macroeconomic terms, we recognize that an escalating trade war may not be in the nation’s larger economic interest, but immediate relief for the U.S. garlic industry is needed,” Ken Christopher, executive vice president of Christopher Ranch LLC, said in the release. “Illegally dumped Chinese garlic continues to flood the U.S. market, making its way to unassuming American consumers, and U.S. farmers need our government’s support. The anticipated tariffs of Chinese garlic will go a long way to restoring a longstanding injustice on American garlic farmers.”
So far this year, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on more than $250 billion in Chinese imports, according to Bloomberg.
Media reports indicate China was responding with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. exports.
China’s retaliatory tariffs don’t hit produce, although there are some frozen produce items on the list, said Richard Owen, vice president of global business development at the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association,
“What we’re now hearing more about is the market access problems with getting products into the country — longer delays at the ports, finding some reasons to return a shipment,” he said. “It is all the non-tariff issues that are starting to emerge as part of this trade war back and forth and those are the those are the things that are more difficult to remedy,” he said.
Owen said it is difficult to imagine that the dispute with China will resolved in the near-term.
On the other hand, he said the latest round of tariff will hit U.S. consumers with higher prices.
“You are seeing consumers being much more directly affected so the price of products on the ground to the mainstream consumer will now probably be impacted — that’s going to bring bigger voices to the table for trying to resolve this,” he said.