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Sen. Cruz and Colleagues Urge U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to take Action on India’s High Tariffs Impacting Texas Pecan Farmers

Submits letter with Sens. Cornyn, Isakson, Inhofe, Udall, Heinrich, Perdue, Strange, McCain

September 14, 2017

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has led a bipartisan letter urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to take action on removing barriers to the exports of American tree nuts to India, pecans in particular. India’s current high tariffs on pecans are impacting Texas and American pecan farmers, and have created a disparate trade barrier compared to some other tree nut producers. The letter is also signed by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

“There are fewer nations in the world that hold greater potential for economic cooperation and trade partnership with the United States than India. Our shared democratic values and common commitment to free markets present American businesses with tremendous possibilities in South Asia,” the Senators wrote. “As you and the Administration continue to explore new opportunities to grow the economy through trade and promote American agriculture, it is imperative that a key part of strengthening our trade relationship with India is reducing the tariffs that are impeding U.S. agricultural exports.” 

In the letter, the Senators note that the current tariff on U.S. pecans entering India is much higher than that of other tree nuts – 36 percent, compared to 10 percent for pistachios and almonds. Bringing balance to the disparity in tariffs by lowering the pecan tariff will allow for increased imports that will generate greater revenue for India without impacting any domestic industry, since India has no significant domestic pecan production.

The Senators also point out the opportunity that increased pecan trade will create for rural America. In the last 10 years, pecan exports added $1.25 billion in economic activity in rural regions of the 15 pecan-producing southern states, which would multiply with increased production to India, where pecans are a popular commodity. 

Full text of the letter may be viewed here, and below.

September 12, 2017

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

In President Trump’s recent joint press statement with Prime Minister Modi in the Rose Garden, the president mentioned the importance of removing the barriers to the export of U.S. products to India. We want to draw your attention to one barrier in particular, India’s high agricultural tariffs, and urge you to work with India to reduce these tariffs.

India’s rapidly changing economy, growing middle class, and demand for consumer-oriented agricultural products are positive market indicators for U.S. export growth. However, restrictive import tariffs on certain agricultural products are constraining agricultural trade and undermining development of deeper trade relations. 

One example is the current disparity in the tariffs India charges on products classified as tree nuts. The current tariff on U.S. pecans entering India is approximately 36%, while the tariff for other similar products, such as pistachios and almonds, is much lower at 10%. 

Reducing the tariff on all tree nuts will encourage increased imports of a type of commodity that enjoys popularity in India and will generate greater revenue for the country. For pecans in particular, any increase in imports from the U.S. would not impact domestic pecan production in India because the country currently produces very little, if any, pecans.

Additionally, increasing U.S. pecans imports to India presents an opportunity to advance issues important to rural America. The pecan industry contributes over $3.75 billion to the rural economies of the 15 pecan-producing southern states stretching from the Carolinas to California, and exports alone over the last 10 years added an additional $1.25 billion in economic activity in rural America.

There are fewer nations in the world that hold greater potential for economic cooperation and trade partnership with the United States than India. Our shared democratic values and common commitment to free markets present American businesses with tremendous possibilities in South Asia.

As you and the Administration continue to explore new opportunities to grow the economy through trade and promote American agriculture, it is imperative that a key part of strengthening our trade relationship with India is reducing the tariffs that are impeding U.S. agricultural exports.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Ted Cruz
United States Senator

James M. Inhofe
United States Senator

Tom Udall
United States Senator 

David Perdue
United States Senator

Johnny Isakson
United States Senator

Martin Heinrich
United States Senator

Luther Strange
United States Senator

John McCain
United States Senator

John Cornyn
United States Senator

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