SAN FRANCISCO, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Fruit farmers in California said they hope the United States and China could step up negotiation efforts to stop tariffs as the fruits on the trees are awaiting harvest.
California's fresh fruits, primarily citrus, are subject to a 15-percent tariff increase from China since Monday. The imposition of the tariff is in retaliation of the Trump administration's proposed tariff on China's steel and aluminum.
"Our growers are concerned about the proposed action," Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, which represents the state's citrus growers, told Xinhua Tuesday.
An increase in the tariff would mean a more expensive product for Chinese consumers and place the industry in a less competitive position compared with other imports, he said.
The tariff depends upon the variety of citrus, but generally the current tariffs on California's fruit are 12 percent to 15 percent plus a value added tax, said Nelson.
China is becoming a larger export market for the California citrus industry, with oranges and lemons being two of the major varieties exported.
In the past two seasons, there has been growth in the Chinese market and China is currently California's third largest export market behind Canada and South Korea, according to the organization.
California exported more than 2 billion U.S. dollars worth of agricultural products to China in 2016-2017, according to California Food and Agriculture Department. Oranges, lemons and related citrus products accounted for 153 million dollars.
China has expressed hopes to resolve the trade conflict through talks. It means a trade war between the United States and China can still be avoided if Washington comes to the negotiating table.
California's citrus industry has felt the urgency for the Trump administration to be able to reach a resolution with China before the harvest season gets into full swing.
For now, about 35 percent of the oranges are on the trees and the lemon harvest will begin in the coming weeks, said Nelson.
"We are hoping that some positive results can be developed in the next 30 to 60 days," he said.