Shelled walnuts are among the 128 agricultural and other American goods that China is slapping tariffs on in retaliation to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. File Photo

published on April 2, 2018 - 12:32 PM
Written by David Castellon

China’s threat last month to slap tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods exported there proved to be anything but idle.

That nation’s finance ministry announced over the weekend that it would impose duties starting today on 128 products, including some fruits, some wines, several pork products, nuts, stainless-steel and alloy pipes and scrap aluminum in response to President Donald Trump announcing tariffs on $50 million worth of Chinese goods coming to the U.S.

Trump’s actions stemmed from his claim of unbalanced trade between the two countries and unfair trade practices by China, which has included dumping cheap steel and aluminum in the U.S. market, undermining the business of foundries here.

The tariffs had worried farmers here in the Valley, who export many fruits, nuts and wines to China, California’s third largest agricultural trading partner after Canada and the European Union.

The list of fruits affected by China’s 15-percent tariffs includes apples, pomegranates, mangos, grapes, persimmons, watermelons, cherries, oranges and other citrus, raisins, pears, peaches, plums and strawberries, while the list of nuts include Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnut kernels, pistachios and macadamia nuts – most of them significant commercial crops grown in the Valley.

“The decision by the Chinese government to levy exorbitant tariff increases on U.S. produce will surely have a direct impact on California citrus producers. Maintaining access to foreign markets and having the ability to compete in a global market place are critical to the success of the citrus industry,” Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, said in a written statement.

“The retaliatory tariffs imposed by China hinders our ability to be competitive by increasing costs for Chinese consumers, an important market for California citrus. Family farmers in our industry will suffer from the economic fallout, unless we can find alternative markets for California’s navel and Valencia oranges and lemons,” continued the statement by Nelsen, whose organization is an advocacy group for citrus growers and California’s $3.3 billion citrus industry.

And while there were indications from China last week that the differences on trade between the two countries might be negotiated before any tariffs were actually imposed, Nelsen stated not enough time was given for that.

“Now, Chinese consumers and California citrus producers are innocent parties to a trade debate.”

China’s announcement also could have a big effect on manufacturers here and in the rest of the country, many of whom buy Chinese steel and aluminum.

The U.S. scrap aluminum exported to China now has higher, 25-percent duties added on – as do pork products – while the various type of steel pipes have 15-percent duties.

Contains Material by the Associated Press.

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