- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Some of Oregon’s agricultural producers are waiting to see the effect trade disputes between the United States and China will have on their products.

China announced on Sunday it would put extra tariffs of up to 25 percent on certain U.S. products such as fruits and nuts, including a 15 percent tariff on hazelnuts.

Aside from hazelnuts, that move would also affect pears, berries, apples and wine, the Register-Guard reported .

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China is Oregon’s fourth-largest importer of agriculture products, behind South Korea, Canada and Japan.

“Our assumption is there will be some effect,” Alexis Taylor, director of the state Department of Agriculture, said on Tuesday. “What is unknown is whether Chinese consumers will be willing to pay more for our products, or if our competitors in the market will take the market share our Oregon companies have worked hard to establish.”

Oregon is the country’s leading hazelnut producers, according to the state agricultural department.

More than half of the state’s crops are exported.

China accounts for only a fraction of the state’s wine export, the Oregon Wine Board said.

In 2016, only 2,475 out of 65,515 cases of wine were exported to China, the wine board said.

Because China already had a 25 percent tariff on hazelnuts, Oregon hazelnut producers have found a workaround for China tariffs, said Larry George, a member of the Hazelnut Marketing Board of Oregon.

Instead of shipping hazelnuts directly to China, George said they sell to other Asia buyers who can get their product to China.

“It doesn’t appear to hurt us, George said of tariff increase. “We’re actually viewing this as an opportunity to have a broader discussion about tariffs.”

Hazelnut farmers are hoping the U.S. and China can come to an agreement that will lower tariffs for the crop, he said.

Oregon Wine Board spokeswoman Sally Murdoch doesn’t think the new tariffs will have much effect on the Oregon wine industry either, at least for now.

“That may change over time if they remain in place or escalate,” she said.


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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