As President Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice this week, Georgia’s senators are urging his administration not to forget the plight of the pecan.
Georgia’s signature tree nut faces a 36 percent tariff in the Indian market, “one of the most dynamic and fastest growing in the world,” according to a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, whose team is working to iron out a deal that could restore India’s preferential trade access in the U.S.
The appeal comes at a time when prices are on the rise due to the trade war with China and damage from Hurricane Michael. Pecans entering India are at a steep disadvantage to pistachios and almonds, which face only a 10 percent levy, according to the letter.
Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, both Republicans, signed onto the letter with 10 of their counterparts from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
As rationale, they pointed to Mr. Trump’s desire to strengthen the economy of rural areas, which have been hit hard as China has pulled back on agricultural purchases.
“The pecan industry contributes over $3.57 billion to the economies of the 15 pecan producing states. Over the last 10 years, exports alone have pumped an additional $1.25 billion in economy activity into rural America. Reducing trade barriers into India is an opportunity to strengthen the economy of rural America.”
Mr. Trump, who along with some Georgia groups joined Mr. Modi during a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston this week, was also set to see the prime minister today in New York as negotiators continued to work toward a deal, according to Politico’s Morning Trade newsletter.
Mr. Trump in June removed India from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, which allows developing countries duty-free access in certain sectors, citing trade barriers for U.S. products in the country of 1.2 billion people.