State officials say it’s unclear new tariffs issued by China on 128 U.S. products may affect some of Georgia’s top agricultural exports.
The tariffs announced on Monday would generate an additional 15 percent tax increase on Georgia’s fresh or dried nuts, peaches and nectarines, and fresh and dried fruit.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture, however, says it does not anticipate big changes following China’s actions.
“With 90 percent of Georgia’s produce entering the fresh market and therefore not exported offshore, we do not expect any major impact to our fruit and vegetable farmers at this time,” said Leslie Davis, a spokesperson at the Georgia Department of Agriculture in an email.
Poultry products which rank among the state’s top commodities by value are excluded from the list of items to be hit by the new tariffs.
Don Koehler, the executive director at the Georgia Peanut Commission says his organization cannot make an immediate assessment of the impact of the proposed tariff as its not yet clear to them what kind of products will be targeted.
“I just don’t think we know enough to be able to comment on that for now,” said Koehler by phone.
Koehler however says he supports free trade initiatives and hopes trade with China continues.
In 2016, Georgia peanuts accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s peanut production, yielding 1.39 million tons of the product.
According to the University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Georgia’s agricultural industry contributes $73.3 billion to the state’s economy, with one in seven people in the state working in either agriculture, forestry or related fields.
China’s move is widely seen as a retaliation to President Trump’s tariffs on its steel and aluminum imports in early March.
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