Smith, Hastings Press USTR to Protest Mexican Apple Duties; Meeting Follows Letter from Chairman Smith to Barshefsky

Sep 10, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) today pressed Peter Scher, Special Trade Negotiator for Agriculture, to call for an end to Mexico's recently announced 101% duty on U.S. apple imports, two days after a letter from Chairman Smith to U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky protesting the new Mexican tariff.

"This is a very serious matter. Mexico is the apple industry's number one export market. Now, at the height of the Mexican apple harvest, Mexico decides to impose a 101% duty on U.S. apple imports. Let's hope that they haven't decided to use trumped-up 'trade investigations' as a way to avoid their obligation to do away with their apple tariffs," Smith said today.

"This action by the government of Mexico is unwarranted and will have a significant and negative impact on apple growers in the United States. Apple exports to Mexico, the largest market for United States apple growers, exceeded $40 million last year. The Mexican imposition of such high duties will effectively shut out our apple exports," Smith wrote in his September 8 letter to Barshefsky.

"The 101% tariff effectively denies our growers access to the largest export market in the world. Chairman Smith and I made it very clear to Special Trade Negotiator Peter Scher that apple shipments are already being diverted or stopped. The longer this unwarranted tariff continues, the more it will cost both U.S. growers and Mexican consumers. The future direction of our free trade agreements with Mexico depends on the quick and successful resolution of this case. I'm pleased that the USTR made a commitment to work with us to resolve this critical issue," said Hastings.

In making its anti-dumping determination - at the height of the Mexican apple harvest season - the Mexican government failed to consider pricing data submitted by Northwest apple producers. The new tariff has virtually halted U.S. apple exports to Mexico, stranding several loads of apples at the U.S.-Mexico border. At a meeting this afternoon with Peter Scher, the U.S. Trade Representative's Special Negotiator for Agriculture, both Smith and Hastings urged the USTR to call on Mexico to end its newly-imposed apple tariffs.

On September 1, the Government of Mexico imposed a 101.1% duty on imports of U.S. Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples in response to an anti-dumping complaint filed by the Chihuahua State Fruit Growers Association. The new tariff will be assessed on apple imports in addition to Mexico's existing 20% duty - so that a carton of apples with a declared value of $20.00 will now be subject to duties of $4.00 (20% import duty) and $20.02 (101.1% anti-dumping duty), bringing the total cost of the apple carton in the Mexican market to $44.02.

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which covers most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hastings represents Washington's Fourth Congressional District - a major apple-producing region in the central portion of the state.