Mexico on Tuesday imposed a 20 percent tariff on apples and a long list of other U.S. imports in response to President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. apples. Washington alone shipped more than $215 million worth in 2017. Washington produces about 65 percent of the apples in the United States and 90 percent of the nation’s export apples.
“Any tariff is clearly going to have economic impact to our industry – especially when you consider its cumulative effect along with the tariffs imposed by China and expected within the next few weeks from India, also major Washington apple export markets, in retaliation to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, in a statement Tuesday. “The economic impact to individual growers will vary depending on the strategic importance of Mexico to their sales, but collectively Washington apple growers will see a decrease in what they are paid for their crop due to the 20 percent duty.”
Funded by grower assessments, the Wenatchee-based Apple Commission collectively promotes Washington apples internationally.
On Tuesday, Mexico published its list of items subject to the retaliatory tariff. Pears and cherries did not seem to be on it, said Kate Woods, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, a Yakima organization that represents the tree fruit industry in matters of federal policy and international trade.
Last week, the Trump administration announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, the European Union and Mexico. All three announced their own list of retaliatory duties.
Earlier in the spring, trade tension with China over steel and aluminum led to a 15 percent tariff on U.S. fruit and vegetable imports, including cherries. Last year, China was the largest export market for fresh U.S. cherries. India, another large market for U.S. apples, also has proposed tariffs on apples and other agricultural products in reaction to the Trump administration’s announcement on tariffs.
—by Ross Courtney