(UPDATED, 3:48 p.m.) U.S. fruit exporters are facing more stormy weather.
With U.S. exporters already dealing with recent tariffs imposed by China and India, Mexico said it would retaliate with new tariffs on U.S. apples, grapes and blueberries after President Donald Trump imposed tariffs, effective June 1, of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.
Canada also published a list of retaliatory tariffs, including cucumbers, but largely sparing fresh produce.
Trump had delayed the steel and aluminum tariffs, first announced March 23, on Canada and Mexico until June 1 to allow time for the three countries to hammer out a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. No agreement has been reached yet and Trump wasted no time in lifting the exemption.
Likewise, Mexico didn’t hesitate to hit back fast.
“Faced with tariffs imposed by the U.S., Mexico will impose equivalent measures to various products such as flat steel (hot and cold foil, including coated and various tubes), lamps, pork legs and shoulders, sausages and food preparations, apples, grapes, blueberries, various cheeses, among others,” the government of Mexico said in a May 31 statement.
“Mexico reiterates its openness to constructive dialogue with the U.S., its support for the international trading system and its rejection of unilateral protectionist measures.”
Canada’s list of countermeasures, according to the Department of Finance Canada, included tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum and a wide array of consumer goods. Cucumbers were the only U.S. fresh produce commodity, with a 10% tariff.
The U.S. tariffs and countermeasures by Mexico and Canada figure to complicate ongoing negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement, said Richard Owen, vice president of global membership and engagement at the Produce Marketing Association.
Washington apple growers send more than $200 million per year in apple exports to Mexico, the state’s top export market, said Mark Powers, president of the of the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council.
Powers said the morning of May 31 that Mexico has not yet specified the level of retaliatory tariff on apples. The retaliatory tariffs could take effect as early as June 1, he said.
Powers said it impossible to speculate what the damage to the industry will be at this point, but it is expected to substantial.
“It is clearly a major concern,” he said.
China, Mexico, and India — three out of the top 10 export markets for Washington’s tree fruit — have hit marketers with new tariffs this year related to U.S. trade policy.
U.S. Steel and aluminum tariffs appear to be part of a long-term trade policy issue, Powers said.
“The cement is starting to harden, and that’s not a good thing,” he said.