By Clint Thompson
The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) assurance of a “positive outcome” regarding international market access for Georgia’s pecan growers was an encouraging first step for Samantha McLeod.
The executive director of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association discussed USTR’s Katharine Tai’s response to Senator Raphael Warnock’s bipartisan letter urging assistance to negotiate with the Indian government for lower tariff rates for Georgia growers and shellers.
“Senator Warnock did make a little bit of movement for us with bringing together a letter of request to Ambassador Tai. With that positive response from her, we’re really hoping that within this administration, we can start to make some move on India,” McLeod said. “It was a little discouraging the last six months or so seeing tariffs move from 36% to 100% on pecans. The increase also happened to walnuts so we’re not all to sure as to why the increased tariffs on nuts into India.
“We’ve been to several global trade shows in the last couple of years, meeting with a lot of nut importers into India, and they get really excited about the product. I think if we could work out that trade barrier, I feel like it would be a real promising partnership between India and the United States when it comes to exporting nuts into India.”
Georgia accounts for about one-third of total U.S. production. However, the high pecan tariff imposed by India for 100% hinders Georgia’s pecan exports. There is minimal opportunity for success in this growing international market if the tariff rate is not reduced.
McLeod said the Indian market would be a “game changer” for Georgia growers.
“Just here in Georgia, we have had increase in acres over the past decade. Our production is going to continuing growing year over year,” McLeod said. “Additionally, with the loss of the Chinese market, which used to really hold up the Georgia pecan growers for the last decade, this could be a really great replacement in lieu of the Chinese market.”