Sep 7, 2023
India lifts tariffs on U.S. apples

India has lifted its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. apples, which drastically cut exports since they were established just over four years ago.

The 20% tariffs also covered almonds, walnuts (in shell) and 25 pulse crops including lentils and chickpeas. India added the tariffs in response to 2018 Trump administration tariffs. India announced its intention to lift the tariffs during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June visit to the U.S., and there were officially rescinded on Sept. 6.

Apple stock photo
A bin of Honeycrisp apples waits in a Washington State orchard during the 2018 harvest. FGN file photo.

According to the U.S. Apple Association, the retaliatory tariffs increased the total tariffs on U.S. apples to 70%. India was the second-largest export market for U.S. apples, and growing, but sales plummeted, costing U.S. growers half a billion dollars in sales.

Jim Bair, president and CEO of USApple, praised the Biden administration when the decision to lift the tariffs was announced. Bair and other association representatives were invited to attend Modi’s arrival ceremony in June.

“U.S. apple growers can now begin the work of competing for, and hopefully regaining, this critical market,” Bair said in a news release at the time. “We look forward to once again shipping great apples to this valued trading partner.”

Tim Kovis, director of communications and events for the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, said exporters will have to work to regain market share. During the 2016-17 season, about eight million 42-pound (bushel) cartons of Washington apples went to India; in the 2021-22 season, just over 200,000 cartons from the state went to India.

“I think a lot of our members and marketers will say it’s great news (the June announcement), but we’ll have to fight to get our market share back,” Kovis said in August. “It’s not going to go back to eight million overnight. Other apples have filled the void, so it will be a challenge to fight back that apple share we once had.”

Like USApple, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, has advocated for an end to the tariffs since they were imposed.

“In removing these retaliatory tariffs, our apple growers can now accept orders from India and growers could be making shipments as early as this fall,” Cantwell said in a statement. “With over a billion people, this is one of the world’s largest markets and represents a significant growth opportunity for Washington growers.”

“We’re looking forward to getting back to business in India as our growers work to rebuild this important market and return to selling high quality, healthful apples to consumers in India,” Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, said in Cantwell’s statement. “Sen. Cantwell’s leadership and work to successfully resolve this issue is greatly appreciated.”



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