Udall, Heinrich Urge USTR Lighthizer to Support New Mexico's Pecan Farmers and Lower Tariffs on Pecan Exports

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined a bipartisan group of six other senators in urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to help New Mexico's pecan farmers increase exports by taking action to lower the tariffs on pecan exports to India. India’s current high tariffs on pecans are impacting New Mexico and American pecan farmers, and have created a trade barrier not imposed on other tree nut producers. 
 
In a letter to Lighthizer, the senators note that the current tariff on U.S. pecans entering India is much higher than that of other tree nuts – 36 percent, compared to 10 percent for pistachios and almonds. Balancing the disparity in tariffs by lowering the pecan tariff would allow for increased imports and would generate greater revenue for India without impacting any domestic industry, since India has no significant domestic pecan production.
 
“There are fewer nations in the world that hold greater potential for economic cooperation and trade partnership with the United States than India. Our shared democratic values and common commitment to free markets present American businesses with tremendous possibilities in South Asia,” the senators wrote. “As you and the Administration continue to explore new opportunities to grow the economy through trade and promote American agriculture, it is imperative that a key part of strengthening our trade relationship with India is reducing the tariffs that are impeding U.S. agricultural exports.”
 
The senators highlighted the benefits a lowered tariff would have on rural communities saying, "Additionally, increasing U.S. pecan imports to India presents an opportunity to advance issues important to rural America. The pecan industry contributes over $3.75 billion to the rural economies of the 15 pecan-producing southern states stretching from the Carolinas to California, and exports alone over the last 10 years added an additional $1.25 billion in economic activity in rural America." 
 
New Mexico is the second largest pecan-producing state in the U.S. In 2015, New Mexico’s pecan crop received a premium per pound price of $2.50 for the 73 million pounds produced.
 
In addition to Udall and Heinrich, the letter is signed by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
 
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
 
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
 
In President Trump’s recent joint press statement with Prime Minister Modi in the Rose Garden, the president mentioned the importance of removing the barriers to the export of U.S. products to India. We want to draw your attention to one barrier in particular, India’s high agricultural tariffs, and urge you to work with India to reduce these tariffs.
 
India’s rapidly changing economy, growing middle class, and demand for consumer-oriented agricultural products are positive market indicators for U.S. export growth. However, restrictive import tariffs on certain agricultural products are constraining agricultural trade and undermining development of deeper trade relations.
 
One example is the current disparity in the tariffs India charges on products classified as tree nuts. The current tariff on U.S. pecans entering India is approximately 36%, while the tariff for other similar products, such as pistachios and almonds, is much lower at 10%.
 
Reducing the tariff on all tree nuts will encourage increased imports of a type of commodity that enjoys popularity in India and will generate greater revenue for the country. For pecans in particular, any increase in imports from the U.S. would not impact domestic pecan production in India because the country currently produces very little, if any, pecans.
 
Additionally, increasing U.S. pecans imports to India presents an opportunity to advance issues important to rural America. The pecan industry contributes over $3.75 billion to the rural economies of the 15 pecan-producing southern states stretching from the Carolinas to California, and exports alone over the last 10 years added an additional $1.25 billion in economic activity in rural America.
 
There are fewer nations in the world that hold greater potential for economic cooperation and trade partnership with the United States than India. Our shared democratic values and common commitment to free markets present American businesses with tremendous possibilities in South Asia.
 
As you and the Administration continue to explore new opportunities to grow the economy through trade and promote American agriculture, it is imperative that a key part of strengthening our trade relationship with India is reducing the tariffs that are impeding U.S. agricultural exports.
 
Thank you for your attention to this request.
 
Sincerely,