WENATCHEE – The United States, Canada and Mexico have reached an agreement resulting in the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs by the U.S. administration and removal of retaliatory tariffs on imported U.S. goods.

Elimination of the 20 percent duty on apples shipped to Mexico is welcome news to the Washington apple industry, said the Washington Apple Commission.

Washington accounts for 90-95 percent of all U.S apple exports. Mexico is Washington’s No. 1 export market, with 13 million boxes shipped to Mexico annually.

Washington is entering the last few months of the export season, but demand for Washington apples in Mexico is strong year-round, said the commission. Duty-free access will have a positive impact on shipments and will benefit apple growers.

“It has been a season of challenges with the industry facing a 20 percent duty into Mexico, a 50 percent duty into China and ongoing threats of India implementing a 25 percent duty,” said Toni Lynn Adams of the apple commission. “The opportunity to wrap up the season with one of the major markets returning to free trade is encouraging for the upcoming season.”

Shipments to foreign markets have been reduced compared to previous years, partly because of smaller crop volume and partly because of barriers to trade.

Exports to Mexico are down 29.3 percent season to date, compared to the 2017-18 season, and exports have decreased by 32.7 percent overall. The retaliatory tariffs were implemented in June 2018 in response to the U.S. administration enacting a tariff on imports of steel and aluminum.

The May 17 agreement also includes a provision stating any possible retaliation regarding steel and aluminum in the future will be limited to those products only, providing some protection for apple suppliers from further escalation of the issue, said the apple commission.

Washington exports one-third of the its fresh apple crop to more than 60 markets worldwide. The Washington Apple Commission is a promotional organization dedicated to serving the Washington apple industry by increasing consumer demand through innovative marketing and promotions in international markets.

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