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U.S. exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables are breathing easy for now in the wake of a tit-for-tat tariff escalation between the United States and China.

The Trump Administration’s targeting of $300 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs of 25 percent was answered by the Chinese Ministry of Finance with promises to raise tariffs on more than 5,000 U.S. products on June 1.

Chinese officials said increases on that $60 billion of U.S. goods could be as high as 25 percent.

Specialty crops were mostly spared, although U.S. canned and frozen vegetables and fruit are among exported goods to face increases in duties, reports from CNBC said.

There is some room for optimism given the last week’s White House decision to end tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminum. Both countries responded Monday by ending tariffs on a bevy of U.S. goods.

According to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, numerous fresh produce items China ships to the United States will be hit with the new 25 percent tariff, including:

  • almonds
  • carrots
  • cashews
  • cauliflower
  • chestnuts
  • cranberries
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • peaches
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • turnips.

According to the China-based website Produce Report, shipments of U.S. fruit to China were $269 million in 2018, shrinking by 31 percent compared to the previous year, with the U.S. share of China’s imported fruit market falling from 7.68 percent in 2017 to 3.88 percent 2018.

Retail Federation Warning

The Washington, D.C.-based retail trade association National Retail Federation warned that U.S. businesses and consumers will both suffer economically from escalating tariffs.

“We support the administration’s efforts to deliver a meaningful trade agreement that levels the playing field for American businesses and workers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “But the latest tariff escalation is far too great a gamble for the U.S. economy. Slapping tariffs on everything U.S. companies import from China – goods that support U.S. manufacturing and provide consumers with affordable products – will jeopardize American jobs and increase costs for consumers.

“Working with our allies who share the same concerns and immediately rejoining TPP are more effective ways to put pressure on China without hurting hardworking Americans. We urge the U.S. and China to get these critical negotiations back on track. Both sides will lose in a full-blown trade war, and the global economy will suffer.”

study commissioned by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland and prepared by Trade Partnership estimated that imposing tariffs of 25 percent on all remaining imports from China, combined with the impact of retaliation, would jeopardize more than 2 million U.S. jobs, cost the average U.S. family of four $2,300 each annually and reduce the U.S. GDP by 1 percent.

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