Folsom, CA, May 12, 2023 – A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) and David Valadao (R-CA-22), and Sen. Angus King (I-ME), is calling on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with their Japanese counterparts to ensure equal market access for U.S. blueberry growers by eliminating harmful frozen blueberry tariffs.
Over 30 lawmakers representing blueberry producers across the country sent a letter to USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak urging them to “pursue a technical amendment to the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement to ensure U.S. frozen blueberries receive the same duty-free market access in Japan as fresh or dried blueberries, as well as other frozen berries.” The lawmakers went on to write that “doing so will allow U.S. farmers to compete on level terms with other blueberry exporting countries, and would help save and revitalize market opportunities for U.S. berry farmers.”
The U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which entered into force in 2020, eliminated Japan’s tariffs on fresh and dried blueberries, but omitted frozen blueberries from this relief. U.S. frozen blueberry exports to Japan continue to face a 6% or 9.6% tariff in Japan, depending on sugar content.
“We applaud Reps. Larsen and Valadao, and Sen. King for their leadership on this important issue that directly and indirectly affects all U.S. blueberry producers,” said Kasey Cronquist, president of the North American Blueberry Council (NABC). “Japan is a critically important market for U.S. frozen blueberry producers, but our industry is at a significant disadvantage relative to competitors in Canada and the European Union who have tariff-free trade with Japan for all forms of blueberries. There is no apparent reason why the tariff on frozen blueberries was left intact after the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement eliminated tariffs on fresh and dried blueberries, yet this oversight has caused the U.S. to lose significant market share. We appreciate the administration’s efforts to increase exports to Asia, including the upcoming trade mission to Japan, and their work to address non-tariff barriers through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. Until this tariff is eliminated, however, frozen blueberry producers will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage,” Cronquist continued.
NABC Director of Communications
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About the North American Blueberry Council
Since 1965, the North American Blueberry Council (NABC) has been the voice of the blueberry industry in the U.S. and Canada. NABC’s members represent approximately 70% of the North American highbush blueberry crop. NABC was instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHABC), a federal agriculture research and promotion program with independent oversight from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Learn more at nabcblues.org.