WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN – On Tuesday, the Washington congressional delegation joined together, asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to get Washington apples back in Japan. The Letter, led by Representative Dan Newhouse and Senator Maria Cantwell, calls out Japan’s overly restrictive policies that have blocked apples from the Evergreen State from getting into Japan for decades.
The bipartisan letter calls on Lighthizer to work with Japan to resolve technical issues that exist, removing the barriers. Since 2003, the U.S has won two WTO disputes against these restrictive policies, but significant technical trade barriers on apples remain in place. The letter continues that, Washington apple growers have long sought meaningful access to Japanese markets, but restrictive import requirements have prevented them from gaining a foothold.
Washington grows roughly 67% of all U.S. apples, and is responsible for nearly 90% of total U.S. apple exports.
“As you work with Japan to improve the trade relationship between our two countries, we respectfully request that you address the technical barriers to trade for U.S. apple growers seeking to export their top-quality fruits to this important market,” the members of Congress wrote to USTR Lighthizer. “Our growers have long sought meaningful access to the Japanese market. Unfortunately, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) policies imposed by Japan have drastically inhibited their ability to ship apples to this high priority market for decades.”
“We fully support the rights of countries to enact science-based measures to protect against the importation of pests and diseases that can be harmful to their domestic agricultural industries. However, pest and disease concerns, not supported by science, are often used as an excuse to impose overly-restrictive requirements on imports that are intended to serve as market barriers and protect domestic industries against foreign competition,” the members continued.
“As the United States continues its negotiations with Japan to improve the trade relationship between the two countries, we respectfully request that the U.S. convey to Japan the importance of increasing U.S. apple access, including responding to USDA-APHIS’s April 2017 systems approach protocol and timely consideration of any proposed changes to the current apple work plan,” the members concluded.
In addition to Cantwell and Newhouse, the letter was signed by U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Representative Adam Smith, Representative Rick Larsen, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Representative Suzan DelBene, Representative Denny Heck, Representative Derek Kilmer, Representative Pramila Jayapal, and Representative Kim Schrier.
Picture: Washington Ag Network – File Photo