Earlier this month President Trump announced the U.S. would be imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, from all countries except Mexico. This caused concern among those at the Port of Seattle, the Port of Tacoma, and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where the total combined steel and aluminum imports reached over $2.5 billion in value in 2017, according to The Northwest Seaport Alliance.
The newly-imposed tariffs also caused concern due to the possibility of retaliatory tariffs being imposed on state exports.
“Just as concerning as these blanket tariffs is the potential for retaliatory tariffs on exports of Washington agricultural and manufactured goods,” said Don Meyer, Port of Tacoma commission president and NWSA co-chair. “As a state in which 40 percent of our jobs are tied to international trade, we are risking jobs and quality of life by levying blanket tariffs against some of our most important trading partners and opening the door to their retaliation.”
It seems those concerns were justified, as on Mar. 23, China announced it will likely impose a 15% tariff on fresh fruit, dried fruit, dried nuts, wine and several other goods exported by U.S. producers.
Apples are one of Washington’s top four agricultural exports according to the State of Washington’s Department of Commerce website. Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, told South Sound Biz that about 4 percent of Washington’s total apple exports go to China, and Chinese exports account for just over one percent of total production. The total market value for Chinese apple exports from Washington is approximately $50 million. Most of these apples are shipped out of the Port of Seattle or the Port of Tacoma.
When asked what affect these tariffs may have on apple exports, Fryhover said there would be none for the very immediate future. “We’ve executed the majority of our exports to China,” he explained. “Our next season starts in September — time will tell, and we hope cooler heads will prevail.”
Washington is the second largest producer of wine in the U.S., according to the Washington State Wine Commission.
Heather Bradshaw, communications director for the Washington Wine Commission, said that Chinese exports account for “$1.16 million across 16.5 thousand cases of wine in fiscal year 2017, up nearly 30 percent over fiscal year 2016.” The Washington Wine Commission’s fiscal year runs July through June and like apples, most of the wine is shipped out of the Port of Seattle or the Port of Tacoma.