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Breaking: China Proposes 15% Tariff on most US Fresh Fruits, Dried Fruits and Nuts

March 23, 2018

China's Ministry of Commerce posted a pdf document this morning with a list of US products proposed for additional tariffs.

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) responded to a US government announcement of tariffs on certain Chinese goods by publishing this morning on its website a statement and list of US products on which it was proposing to levy retaliatory tariffs.

A large segment of the MOFCOM list of 128 products is taken up by fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts. The news has already prompted widespread concern from US producers of these products about how it might affect them. So what does it mean for these producers and their customers in China?

First and foremost: the tariffs have not been formally put in place, and for now they seem to be sending the message that China will back off if the US backs off. “China does not want to fight a trade war, but it is absolutely not afraid of a trade war,” said MOFCOM in a statement. However, if the US does not back off, and it seems unlikely it will, then it is highly likely China will enact these tariffs.

The list released by MOFCOM of products proposed for 15% tariff includes all US fresh fruits that currently have market access to be imported into China. 

If the tariffs are enacted according to the list that was published this morning, here is what we can say about the impact:

First of all, the MOFCOM tariff list is divided into 120 products (alongside their HS codes) that would face an additional 15% tariff on top of existing tariffs, along with eight products that would face a tariff increase of 20%. All fruits, vegetable and nut-related products are in the 15% section.

The list released by MOFCOM of products proposed for 15% tariff includes all US fresh fruits that currently have market access to be imported into China. The most recent iteration of the market access list is as follows: California plums; Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho cherries; California grapes; apples; California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas citrus; California, Washington and Oregon pears; and California strawberries

In the nut category, almonds, pistachios and walnuts are all mentioned on the list of US products targeted for tariff, all in both their shelled and unshelled forms, alongside smaller export crops like macadamias and hazelnuts.

The story with dried fruits is similar. Raisins, prunes figs, dried apples, and several others are all on the list.

Also proposed for tariff are any mixtures of dried fruits and/or nuts that contain any of the other products on MOFCOM’s list.

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Office, the U.S. exported $19.6b worth of agricultural goods to China last year, making it the second largest market for US agricultural product exports in 2017. According to Census Bureau trade data, the US exported at least $241.8m worth of edible tree nuts, $225.8m in fresh fruit, and $29.7m in dried fruits to mainland China in 2017.

Some other agricultural products proposed for tariff include ginseng, wine and a range of pork products.

China's Ministry of Commerce posted a pdf document this morning with a list of US products proposed for additional tariffs.

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