UPDATE (April 3 at 9:43 a.m.) — The growing trade war between the U.S. and China is expected to take a toll on Oregon exports.
China announced tariffs Monday of an additional 15 percent on hazelnuts, watermelons, pears, cherries, apples and several kinds of berries.
The Washington Apple Commission estimates China is its sixth-largest exporter and it expects a substantial reduction in trade.
China is by far Oregon’s largest export partner, responsible for $4 billion worth of trade last year.
Doug Badger, with the Pacific Northwest International Trade Association, is worried.
“Anytime you get down a path where you are proposing unilateral tariffs that then invite retaliatory tariffs from China, we start worrying about the broader economic relationship that’s so important to our region,” he said.
But Darcy Kochis, with the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, said China’s tariffs are already so high, increasing them doesn’t make much difference to this region’s crops.
“While this is unfortunate and this will make things even more difficult, our competition was already very steep with another part of the world,” she said.
Chile has a trade agreement with China, so its berries face no tariffs when crossing the border. The tariff on Oregon blackberries will go from 30 percent to 45 percent.
China is the fourth-largest international market for Oregon food and agriculture, according to Euromonitor market research. Last year, Japan was the highest market, with about $650 million in trade. Followed by South Korea at $380 million, Canada at $360 million and China at $290 million. Those countries were followed by the Philippines, Mexico and Hong Kong.
Tariffs that President Trump placed on solar panels last month are expected to help companies like SolarWorld in Hillsboro.
But the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association says the effect will be to raise prices and cut the state’s solar workforce by 20 to 50 percent.