India is already a major success story for Washington fruit exporters, but we’ve still got some work to do to reduce tariffs and trade barriers against our apples, pears and cherries. Without a reduction in India’s high tariff rates on tree fruit, our growers won’t be able to realize the full potential of the Indian marketplace.
India is already the #3 export market for Washington apples. Yet the average Indian only eats about one apple a month! That’s very low by global standards and we know we can do better. Imagine what we could do if Washington apples weren’t subject to a 50 percent import duty?
Indian consumers are longing for more top-quality produce. The Indian middle class has grown to 250 million, and they are seeking the world-class tree fruit that Washington grows. Our 4 million boxes of apple exports to India was a record last year, more than double the year before. Washington orchards are India’s favorite suppliers of imported apples, so we’ve already won that battle against our foreign competitors.
Now it’s time to expand our reach to more Indian families by making Washington apples, pears and cherries more affordable – and that means reducing tariffs and trade barriers. Our upcoming discussions with key Indian government and business leaders will offer another critical opportunity to deliver our message on the taste, nutrition and quality of Washington tree fruit.
With this year’s newly enacted U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement, Washington potato producers are excited about the possibilities for fair trade. We’re already a major supplier of french fries and other frozen potatoes to Korean consumers, and with no tariffs, now is the time for us to press our opportunity for trade.
Wherever you go in South Korea, you’re likely to run into Washington french fries. Koreans love them, and our exports are growing by leaps and bounds. From $54 million in US exports last year, eliminating Korean processed potato tariffs and tariff rate quotas (TRQs) through the US-South Korea free trade agreement could see the market for US processed potatoes grow to over $75 million. That success will translate into strengthening our Washington economy and providing jobs from the farm to fork.
As the new food frontier, India offers promise for Washington potato growers. Unfortunately, a confusing matrix of import tariffs and arbitrary duties on US frozen french fries prohibits trade opportunities. We’re hopeful that discussions with the Indian government can clarify how to navigate the processes needed to reach the Indian consumer. If we’re ever going to crack the India market in a big way, we need transparency and a level playing field.
As we make our final arrangements for our upcoming trade mission to India and Korea, I hope you’ll follow along and visit this travel journal frequently as we promote our products and industries overseas to create jobs here at home.
As the first Washington state governor to travel to India, this trade mission presents invaluable opportunities. We know that more and more consumers in India are wanting to buy products from the United States. By meeting with business leaders there, we put Washington state made- and grown- products at the front of the competition. I also look forward to traveling to South Korea where we’ll continue to build relationships – and promote Washington state agricultural products! While there – I’ll visit both a Popeye’s restaurant and a Costco to encourage people to try Washington grown french-fries. The success from these promotional stops always amaze me!
I am pleased more than 50 leaders from Washington state – representing agriculture, aerospace, life sciences, education, technology and culture– are joining me on this 10-day trip. As with every trade mission, these delegates become some of our state’s best salesmen and women. Their tireless work never fails to grow our existing businesses, while attracting new ones to our state.
As you’ll hear from those I’m traveling with, there is no alternative to face-to-face introductions to help launch new business partnerships and form connections.
We know our trade missions pay off. During my trade mission to the Farnborough Air Show earlier this year more than 300 new jobs were announced, partnerships were formed and substantial new contracts were gained by Washington companies. My last trade mission to Asia in 2010 resulted in more than $10 million in immediate new sales, with a spike in new business expected down the road.
Follow along with us as we showcase Washington abroad. I’ve asked participants to join me in updating this travel journal – and we’ll share pictures along the way.