The last several weeks have brought forth some optimism regarding the trade dispute with China and the retaliatory tariffs that are being levied against citrus and other agricultural products. On October 11th, President Trump held a press conference to announce a Phase 1 agreement with China. That deal, subject to final documentation, is that China would be purchasing $40 to $50 billion of agricultural products from the United States and would suspend additional tariffs. Any details beyond these were limited.
California Citrus Mutual President, Casey Creamer traveled to Washington D.C. the following week and met with leaders in Congress and at the USDA with the understanding that the retaliatory tariffs were not part of the Phase 1 deal. Some of those offices included Congressmen Devin Nunes, Congressman TJ Cox, and Congressman Jim Costa; along with their senior staff members and the office of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The messages were clear, the retaliatory tariffs are still in place, therefore citrus is affected, and remedies must be sought.
As a result of the meetings and follow-up actions with partners in the industry, Congressmen McCarthy, Congressman Nunes, and Congressman Calvert sent a letter to Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer highlighting the damages being suffered by the California citrus industry as a result of the retaliatory tariffs. They requested that any agricultural purchase deal include citrus. CCM appreciates the strong showing of support from our congressional representatives.
Additional work is ongoing by CCM and the congressional offices to increase support of the California citrus industry in the Trade Mitigation Program. Citrus has been participating through the Food Purchase Program, which removed $55 million of citrus out of the traditional marketplace. Trade mitigation dollars have been increased for citrus in year two, but allocations within the entire US sector are still being worked on.
Signs of significant progress on negotiations with China are starting to make headlines. However, until the retaliatory tariffs lift and the markets open, CCM will continue our efforts in Washington to support the industry.