U.S. Apple Association (USApple) on Thursday expressed concern over U.S. trade disputes with China and other countries, saying escalating tensions will only hurt domestic agricultural producers.
At a press event, USApple Secretary Jeff Colombini spoke about the impact of China's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural commodities, including a 15-percent tariff on apples, which were announced earlier this month in response to Washington's duty proposals on imported Chinese goods.
"This is a tremendous concern as China has significant growth potential, because it doesn't grow the many apple varieties we grow and Chinese consumers are excited to experience those unique taste profiles," he told reporters.
Colombini warned that the trade dispute will "hurt apple growers' ability to maintain and expand this emerging market," according to a press release of USApple.
The U.S. apple industry achieved full access to the Chinese market in 2015, it said, adding that since then, apple exports have grown to 2.5 million boxes per year and China is the apple industry's sixth largest export market.
"Trade is critical to the health and future of the entire apple industry," Colombini said, adding that trade barriers will lead to supply issues and impact everyone's bottom line.
Thursday's event, held in Acampo, some 620 km north to Los Angeles of California state, was organized by the Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan group co-chaired by two former U.S. Senators and supported by many leading agricultural organizations.
The Farmers for Free Trade released a research report at the event, saying that apple exports to China could see 8 million U.S. dollars in potential additional duties.
Colombini also stressed in his speech the importance of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying growers have benefitted greatly from NAFTA.
"Under the agreement, the apple industry has quadrupled its exports to Mexico and doubled its exports to Canada with combined purchases of nearly 450 million U.S. dollars per year," he said.