Pear producers brace for increased tariffs from Brazil
by Joan Murphy | March 16, 2010
WASHINGTON -- If Brazil joins Mexico in levying retaliatory trade tariffs on
U.S. pear producers, it would cut 50 percent of total exports, according to Jeff
Corea, international marketing director for the Pear Bureau Northwest.
Brazil announced March 8 that it would raise tariffs on $591 million worth of
U.S. products in retaliation for U.S. cotton subsidies. The World Trade
Organization found that U.S. cotton subsidies were discriminatory and
authorized Brazil to enact countermeasures against U.S. goods. The 102 U.S.
products on the hit-list include hazelnuts, walnuts, pears, cherries and
While U.S. and Brazil trade representatives have until early April to find a
solution before the new tariffs are on the books, pear producers will need to
prepare for tariffs to jump to 30 percent from 10 percent.
"It won't kill the market for us. It will impact volume and put downward
pressure on pricing," said Mr. Corea.
The Northwest region begins shipping pears in late August and early
September, and the pear bureau estimates that it exports 560,000 boxes
each year to Brazil.
But the cumulative effect is jarring, especially since the industry is already
absorbing $20 million in lost sales and price reductions since last March
when its top export market, Mexico, waged a costly trade dispute with
Congress over a stalled trucking program.
In the meantime, Mr. Corea is reaching out to Congress for relief, forming a
coalition with other commodities on the firing line and telling importers in
Brazil to petition their government about the financial impact the tariff
increases would have on businesses.
"We are disappointed to learn that Brazil's authorities have decided to proceed
with countermeasures against U.S. trade in the WTO cotton dispute," U.S.
Trade Representative spokeswoman Nefeterius McPherson said in a press
statement earlier this month. "USTR is working to reach a solution to the
issues in this dispute without Brazil resorting to countermeasures, and we
continue to prefer a negotiated solution."