A bipartisan group of nine top American Senators has urged the Trump administration to take action on removing barriers to the export of tree nuts especially pecans from the US to India. India’s current high tariffs on pecans are affecting American pecan farmers, and have created a disparate trade barrier compared to some other tree nut producers, the Senators wrote in a letter to US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer. The letter is also signed by Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, David Perdue, Luther Strange and John McCain. “There are fewer nations in the world that hold greater potential for economic cooperation and trade partnership with the US than India. Our shared democratic values and common commitment to free markets present American businesses with tremendous possibilities in South Asia,” the Senators wrote in the letter dated September 12, which was released to the press yesterday.
“As you and the administration continue to explore new opportunities to grow the economy through trade and promote American agriculture, it is imperative that a key part of strengthening our trade relationship with India is reducing the tariffs that are impeding US agricultural exports,” the Senators told Lighthizer. The current tariff on US pecans entering India is approximately 36 per cent, while the tariff for other similar products, such as pistachios and almonds, is much lower at 10 per cent, the letter said. “Reducing the tariff on all tree nuts will encourage increased imports of a type of commodity that enjoys popularity in India and will generate greater revenue for the country,” it said.
For pecans in particular, any increase in imports from the US would not impact domestic pecan production in India because the country currently produces very little, if any, pecans, they argued. Additionally, increasing US pecans imports to India presents an opportunity to advance issues important to rural America. The pecan industry contributes over USD 3.75 billion to the rural economies of the 15 pecan-producing southern states stretching from the Carolinas to California, and exports alone over the last 10 years added an additional USD 1.25 billion in economic activity in rural America.