Keith Hu (left) and Jeff Correa (right), the respective international marketing directors for Northwest Cherries and USA Pears, have expressed concern at the new tariffs their industries are facing

China made good on its promise and slapped US$3bn worth of retaliatory tariffs on US products on Monday. Most severely impacted were fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts with a 15 per cent duty added on top of existing tariffs.

With value added levies, most produce imports from the US will land at Chinese ports carrying duties in excess of 30 per cent. Pork, scrap aluminum and steel piping face 25 per cent tariffs. All of this comes in response to President Trump’s proposal to raise import duties on US$50bn worth of Chinese-produced goods.

The US fresh produce industry’s initial reaction to China’s announcement, while tempered, was one of clear concern.

Kathleen Nave, president, California Table Grape Commission
“California has been shipping table grapes to China since 1997 and (since then) it has become a top export market consistently ranking in the top five. A big part of the growth can be attributed to the lowering of the tariff over time. Currently the tariff is 13 per cent. Increasing the tariff to 28 per cent is expected to have a very negative impact on exports.”

Jeff Correa, international marketing director, Pear Bureau Northwest
“Our exporting season is already starting to wind down but with these additional duties, it’s doubtful anyone will want to ship to China now. We’ve had a short pear crop this year so our volume to China is down as it is. But we’re due for a larger pear crop so we can only hope that these issues are resolved by next season.”

Keith Hu, international marketing director, Northwest Cherry Growers
“Talking with major Chinese importers and retailers, opinion is that increased duties will definitely have a negative impact on cherry demand this season. They also say that if our fruit quality is strong, consumers will still be willing to buy Northwest Cherries.”

Kate Woods, vice president, Northwest Horticultural Council
“We are hoping for an early resolution to these (trade) issues. If not, fruit from the Northwest will still go to the Chinese market but probably at a lower return to the grower.”