The growing middle class in India has demonstrated its desire for consumer-oriented agricultural products, like tree nuts, and the Indian market represents one of the most dynamic and fastest growing in the world, the senators wrote in a letter to US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer.
“Unfortunately, the current high tariff (36 per cent) that India charges on pecan imports makes it difficult for American producers to compete in this important market,” said the letter that was written by Senators Kelly Loeffle, David Perdue, Doug Jones, John Boozman and Tom Cotton.
“In contrast, we understand that the current Indian tariffs on US pistachios and almonds is much lower (10 per cent), which highlights how disproportionately high the pecan tariff is,” said the latter dated October 23 that was released on Monday.
Lowering the tariff on pecans would provide the Indian people with more economical access to tree nut varieties, while providing a much-needed economic boost to rural America. The pecan industry contributes over USD 3.57 billion to the economies of the 15 pecan producing states in the United States, it said.
Over the last ten years, exports alone have pumped an additional USD 1.25 billion in economic activity into rural America. Reducing trade barriers into India is an opportunity to strengthen the economy of rural America, the senators wrote.
“As you continue discussions with Prime Minister Modi’s Administration to reach a trade deal and potentially reinstate India’s Generalized System of Preference Status, we would like to stress the importance of removing existing barriers to the export of US agricultural products, specifically pecans,” the senators wrote.
“As you may know, American pecan producers have faced many challenges due to rising imports from Mexico, Chinese tariffs, natural disasters like Hurricane Michael, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaining access to new markets for pecans will help ease the pain while orchards are replanted and a trade deal is negotiated with China,” they said.
Loeffler, who grew up on a farm and who serves on the US Senate Agriculture Committee, also spoke with members of the Georgia Pecan Grower’s Association about international trade and the multiple factors currently affecting pecan prices.
Georgia is the nation’s leading pecan producing state.