Back to January 2023

USTR Tai Discusses Pecan Trade Issues at Ag Roundtable

National Pecan Federation Executive Board Member Marianne Brown represented the pecan industry on India trade issues.

National Pecan Federation (NPF) Executive Board Member Marianne Brown recently attended a roundtable discussion with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai and U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA). Also attending was newly sworn-in USTR AG Ambassador Doug McKalip. At the event, Georgia commodity leaders were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and priorities as they relate to global markets and agricultural trade. 

Marianne Brown, a pecan grower from Leesburg, Georgia, represented the National Pecan Federation at the roundtable, discussing the important issue of U.S. pecan exports to India. She shared her experience representing the industry and answered some questions about the roundtable.

Q: What is the primary India trade issue for the U.S. pecan industry? How does this issue impact the economic health of the pecan industry?

Marianne Brown: Pecans are grown in 15 states and have a significant impact on these rural economies. Pecan exports to China, the industry’s largest trading partner, have decreased significantly since the implementation of tariffs on pecan exports. As a result, there has been increased pressure to expand the U.S. pecan export market to other countries, such as India. Pecans are currently subject to a 100% import duty in India. The principal goal of this tariff is revenue, but it seems self-defeating. India is not considered a major commercial producer of pecans, so there is no domestic competition. The high tariff has resulted in few imports, and consequently little revenue for India. Reducing the tariff would presumably produce higher import levels—thus more revenue—and open a major market for U.S. pecans.

Q: Tell us about the meeting. Who was there, what did you discuss, NPF’s key message to USTR’s leadership, etc.

Marianne Brown: The meeting was attended by U.S. Senator Ossoff, Ambassador Tai, USTR Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip, and other Georgia commodity representatives. Senator Ossoff opened the meeting with a short introduction and acknowledgment of each commodity group’s key issue. Then, each group representative had time to discuss their issue with Ambassador Tai, Senator Ossoff, and Ambassador McKalip. 

The key message from NPF was the importance of removing trade barriers to open the U.S. pecan export market to India. If the tariff is lowered, the India market would be a helpful replacement for market loss in China. The industry could see an increase from $1 million in trade sales to $50 to $60 million by 2030 according to recent studies. This would be beneficial for both the United States and India, who would collect more revenue with a lower tariff.

Q: How was the discussion of the India trade barrier received by Ambassador Tai and Senator Ossoff? Did they have any questions?

Marianne Brown: Over the last few years, NPF has worked with Senator Ossoff and other members of Congress on educating and interacting with USTR leadership on this India trade issue, so both Senator Ossoff and Ambassador Tai came into the meeting well-versed on this issue. NPF has also included pecan leader fly-ins to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Office of the U.S Trade Representative, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Capitol Hill leaders to advocate for lower tariffs in India. The Administration and pecan state congressional leaders are aware of the problem and how important it is for pecan growers that are facing significantly increased input costs along with limited export options. 

Senator Ossoff reaffirmed his commitment to working on this issue with NPF and keeping an open dialogue with USTR until there is a positive solution.

Q: What was your impression on the outlook of lowering the tariff for U.S. pecan imports in India?

Marianne Brown: While there were no specific details from Ambassador Tai, USTR is actively pursuing this issue and it is a priority for their agenda. Both Ambassador Tai and Ambassador McKalip had a positive outlook for a solution soon.

Author Photo

National Pecan Federation

The National Pecan Federation (NPF) represents pecan growers and pecan shellers (many of whom are also importers) across the United States. The NPF's mission is to promote, protect, and improve business conditions for the pecan industry by representing and advocating their common interest to the government. The NPF comprises industry organizations across the US, including the Western Pecan Growers Association, Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association, Texas Pecan Growers Association, Southeastern Pecan Growers Association, Georgia Pecan Growers Association, and the National Pecan Shellers Association.