Washington state apple exports drop substantially in 2020-21

YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington state apple industry officials have said the fruit’s exports have dropped substantially compared to recent years’ figures.

The state exported 18.8 million 40-pound (about 18 kilogram) boxes of apples from the 2020-21 crop as of last week, which is down 20.5% from this time last year and down 16.4% compared to the 2018-19 shipping season, according to data from the Washington Apple Commission.

And while nearly 28% of state-produced apples were shipped abroad in in the 2018-2019 season, exports for the 2020 crop are expected to fall below 25%.

Those would be the lowest export numbers since the 2003-04 crop season, when they were 21.7%, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

The export of apples and other crops from the U.S. has remained a challenge as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and trade issues with other countries.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from several countries, including Canada, Mexico and China. Several countries then imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, including apples and cherries in Washington state. While the federal government has resolved the matter with some countries — including Canada and Mexico — they have not with others.

In 2019, India imposed an additional 20% tariff on apples, which brought the total duty to 70%. The Washington state apple industry had relied on India as a destination for Red Delicious apples.

Apples and cherries to China now face a 50% tariff. Just four years ago, 3.3 million 20-pound (about 9 kilogram) boxes of cherries had been shipped to China. Since the tariffs were implemented in 2018, shipments have declined to 2.2 million in 2018, 1.9 million in 2019 and to just over 1 million last year.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who was confirmed last month for the position, recently indicated that the country is not yet ready to lift tariffs on Chinese products.