Schumer: Japan’s tariff on US grape juice hurts NY growers

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to work to eliminate Japan’s tariff on U.S. grape juice in ongoing trade negotiations with Japan. Currently, Japan levies a 19.1 percent tariff on all imported U.S. grape juice concentrate, which limits the ability of U.S. grape juice producers to compete in that market. Schumer explained that opening up Japan to U.S. grape juice will hopefully increase demand for U.S. grape juice concentrate and in turn the demand for local grapes, which will benefit grape-producing regions in Upstate New York like the Concord Grape Belt in Western New York. Reducing the tariff would increase the international competitiveness of U.S. grape juice concentrate and provide a boost to local growers, said Schumer.

“Upstate New York is home to many successful vineyards, who produce some of the world’s best grapes and grape juice. But Japan’s tariff on U.S. produced grape juice is prohibitive, and limits the international competitiveness of New York grape juice producers,” said Schumer. “In trade negotiations with Japan, the USTR and the USDA should work to end this harmful tariff, and open up a new market for New York-produced grape juice. It would be a boon to the region and support jobs and economic development throughout the Concord Grape belt and other grape-producing regions of the state.”

Currently, Japan levies tariffs on grape juice concentrate from a number of importing countries, ranging from 19.1 percent to 29.8 percent. The current tariff on U.S.-produced grape juice concentrate is 19.1 percent. Schumer explained that the reduction or elimination of the tariff would benefit hundreds of growers throughout New York by increasing the international competitiveness of grape juice. New York has 281 growers and over 9,700 acres of Concord vineyards.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the USTR and USDA appears below:

Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:

We write on behalf of the grape growers in our states and across the country regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with Japan. As TPP negotiations continue, we urge you to secure immediate duty elimination of Japan’s 19.1 percent tariff on U.S. grape juice concentrate under H.S. 2009.69.210. To ensure that all future U.S. grape juice exports enter Japan duty-free, we also ask that you secure the elimination of Japan’s other grape juice tariffs falling under H.S. 2009.69 and H.S. 2009.61, which range from 19.1 percent to 29.8 percent.

Elimination or reduction of tariffs on grape juice concentrate would immediately benefit hundreds of growers throughout the United States, including in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Specifically, this would save family farmers about 20 percent annually and increase the competitiveness of premium-quality U.S. grape juice against lower-cost producers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Italy, and Spain that also supply the Japanese market.

A reduction in these tariffs would also benefit Japanese consumers and remanufacturers. Japan’s domestic grape sector is limited and the vast majority of grape juice sold in Japan is imported. Therefore, duty-free access for U.S. grape juice concentrate is not expected to have an impact on Japanese grape producers.

Japan is the one TPP market that offers an opportunity for immediate increased sales of U.S.-origin grape juice if Japan’s high tariffs are eliminated. We urge you to work towards a final TPP agreement that grants duty-free access into Japan for U.S. grape juice concentrate and that Japan’s other grape juice tariffs are reduced or eliminated.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer