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WA Senator celebrates apple exports to India with growers

sen. cantwell india apple exports
Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (in red) was joined by the India Consul General at Port of Seattle, and apple growers, on the left, John Wolfe, Chuck Zeutenhorst, Bryan Peebles, and Todd Fryhover (L-R).

02.20.24 SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. 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 port officials for a press conference to celebrate a hugely successful apple shipping season – 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 Sen. 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,” Sen. 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.”

Sen. 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 BB #:160338, 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, Sen. 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. Sen. 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.

Video of that floor speech is available HERE.

A transcript for the event at the Port of Seattle is available HERE.