California: Grape and citrus sectors eye greater Asia-bound exports -

California: Grape and citrus sectors eye greater Asia-bound exports

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California: Grape and citrus sectors eye greater Asia-bound exports

California's table grape and citrus industries both expect more robust trade with Asian markets upon finalization of the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. shipping

While the U.S already has free trade agreements already in place with many of the 11 other TPP countries, it has none for Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, where import duties can be high.

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) president Joel Nelsen said that after conversations with authorities in Washington, he had come to the conclusion the regional trade deal would be positive for the industry.

"The proposal calls for immediate reductions in tariffs on citrus entering Japan and Vietnam and sets into motion the complete elimination of tariffs within a matter of years," he said.

"TPP will effectively lower product prices for importers and the retail customers. Optimally, these savings will be passed on to the end consumer, thereby increasing demand for CA grown citrus."

The CCM said California citrus had long been disadvantaged relative to other exporters to Japan, but the TPP would help 'level the playing field'.

It added that most fresh citrus imported into the U.S. was subject to a tariff of 3% or less, while in contrast, California citrus had been subject to tariffs of more than 30% in Vietnam and Japan.

Another area of concern for the citrus industry, as well as the broader fresh fruit and vegetable industry, has been dispute resolution language.

"Most countries, and even some sectors of U.S. Agriculture, would like to establish tribunals in which our nation's concerns would constantly be out voted [sic]," Nelsen said, but he emphazied that the Administation had worked to protect the country's horticultural industry from pests and disease.

Table grapes

The state's table grape industry representatives also expect high trade volumes into Asia.

"The elimination of tariffs in the TPP presents an opportunity to expand California table grape exports in the robust Asia Pacific region," said California Table Grape Commission president Kathleen Nave said.

She added the agreement would also help California exporters "compete with third-party producers who have already secured preferential tariff access in these markets from other regional trade agreements."

Specifically, the deal would eliminate tariffs in key markets like Japan, where tariffs on California grapes range from 7.8-17%, Vietnam (10%), and Malaysia (5%).

"In addition to the expected tariff advantages, the TPP will also implement oversight measures to ensure that food safety and phytosanitary regulations are developed and implemented transparently and are based on science, and prevent trade-restrictive and protectionist policies from being implemented," she said.

"TPP also includes protections for trademarks and local names used by U.S. exporters."

Photo: Kevin Poh, via Flickr Creative Commons

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