April 18, 2024 12:49 pm

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Cantwell, apple growers, India Consul General celebrate export gains

SEATTLE—United States Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Prakash Gupta, the Consul General of the newly-opened India Consulate in Seattle, along with apple growers from Central Washington and labor and officials at the Port of Seattle on February 20 to celebrate a hugely successful apple shipping season. This is the first season since India dropped their 20% retaliatory tariff on American-grown apples.

“Apples are the pride of the Washington agricultural economy. They are known worldwide,” said Senator Cantwell. “Today is a celebration, because for five years now, we have not seen the volume of apples leaving these docks and traveling to India.”

“This is a new day in trade relations between the United States and India,” Senator Cantwell added. “We are very committed to growing the Washington-India relationship in many fronts, in aviation, in technology, in healthcare, and especially in agriculture.”

United States Senator Maria Cantwell (center right) joined Prakash Gupta (right of Sen. Cantwell), the Consul General of the newly opened India Consulate in Seattle, along with apple growers from Central Washington and labor and officials at the Port of Seattle on February 20. SOURCE: Office of Maria Cantwell.

Senator Cantwell was the leading voice to end these retaliatory tariffs. Imposed in 2019, the tariffs caused the apple export market from Washington state to India to plunge. Before the tariffs were imposed, Washington growers exported $120 million worth of apples to India and at the lowest point, growers exported less than $1 million.

With the tariffs dropped for the 2023-24 season, Washington growers have seen an immediate financial impact. According to the Washington State Apple Commission,  Washington growers have shipped approximately 1,190,000 40 lb. boxes of apples to India this season. So far, total apple sales from Washington to India are estimated to be about $19.5 million, and growers are only halfway through the shipping season. By comparison, the 2022-23 season totals were just 73,000 40 lb. boxes shipped and $1.3 million in sales.

Among other actions, in January 2023, Senator Cantwell led a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo requesting an end to the tariffs, during an important Trade Policy Forum with India. Senator Cantwell also repeatedly met with the new U.S. Ambassador to India, Ambassador Eric Garcetti, pressing the issue.

In February 2023, Sen. Cantwell raised the issue of tariffs directly with PM Modi during a visit to India as part of a senatorial delegation. “To my great interest, [Modi] said the U.S. and India should consider a Free Trade Agreement,” she later recalled.

In March 2023, she raised the issue again with U.S. Trade Representative Tai at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. Prior to PM Modi’s visit to the U.S. in June 2023, Sen. Cantwell led a letter to President Biden requesting that he negotiate an end to the tariffs. Sen. Cantwell spoke on the Senate floor a week later to announce the end of the India tariffs.

SOURCE: Office of Maria Cantwell


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