Trade war impacts: Tariffs dampen market growth in China for Washington cherries.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports on how the current trade war is affecting sales of Washington cherries to China. The story provides an excellent description of how tariff policies roil markets. 

The country’s large population — along with a rapid increase in middle- and upper-middle class wage earners — has made China a major and growing export market for Northwest cherries. Last year, China was the top export market for Northwest cherries, surpassing Canada.

“In the grand scheme of things, China has been a very good market for cherries,” said Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, a Yakima-based organization that represents the tree fruit industry in public policy issues, such as trade.

This year, obviously, is different.

But continued market growth has been dampened by a 50 percent tariff now tacked to U.S. cherries imported into China, a result of an ongoing trade war with the U.S.

Local fruit companies have continued to sell and ship cherries to China, but officials say it won’t be anywhere near last year’s level. And many fruit companies’ sales departments have opted to discount the product considerably to compensate for the tariff, which means lower returns for local growers.

The article, by Mai Hoang, is an excellent explainer, worth your time. The close sums it up nicely:

“It would have been nice to have a normal marketing season, in terms of a lack of interference,” [Jeff Webb, director of international business development for Domex Superfresh Growers, the Yakima-based tree-fruit marketing firm] said. “It’s frustrating. We could have had an exceptional year (in China).”

Meanwhile, other effects of the trade war are leading to a whiskey summit (not to drown sorrows, but to get things sorted).

Representatives from eight whiskey trade groups will meet next week in Louisville, Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory said Thursday. The goal is to forge a united strategy in making their case to world leaders in promoting free and fair trade, he said…

Trade disputes have resulted in tariffs imposed in some key overseas markets for bourbon, including the European Union — where Kentucky spirits producers exported nearly $200 million of their products in 2017. American whiskey makers also face retaliatory tariffs in Canada, Mexico and China.

EU tariffs targeting American whiskey and many other U.S. products were a response to President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum. Those duties amount to a tax, which producers can pass along to consumers through higher prices or absorb at risk of shrinking profits.

Last month, we reported that business economists feared trade disputes could lead to recession.

Members of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) are worried about the economic consequences of current trade policies, according to an Associated Press report

Three-fourths of the NABE panel believes that current trade policies will have a negative impact on the economy. Trump last week imposed penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from major U.S. trading partners — the European Union, Canada and Mexico — and he has threatened tariffs on up to $200 billion in Chinese imports, moves that could trigger a global trade war as the targeted nations pledge to retaliate.

Right now, as we’ve written, our state economy continues to thrive. As one of the most trade-driven states in the nation, we can only benefit from a swift and successful conclusion to the current tariff disputes.