In accordance with a 2007 WTO accession agreement Vietnam was to apply a 16.66% tariff on U.S. frozen fry imports by 2012. Potato industry officials have now confirmed that the Vietnamese government will be applying a 15% tariff on frozen fry imports. Matt Harris, Director of Governmental Affairs with the Washington State Potato Commission, comments on the 15% rate decision.
HARRIS: Back in 2007 when the WTO negotiated a reduced tariff rate the U.S. was exporting frozen product into the market at about 30%. You know, why it landed at 15% - I don’t have that answer, but I’m not going to question it.
Harris says according to the 2007 WTO agreement future tariff levels will go even lower.
HARRIS: Today we’re at about a 15% tariff, and we should expect by the 2013 year that that rate should fall to 13%, which is the scheduled rate reduction.
Washington potato producers export a large quantity of their frozen potato products to the Pacific Rim.
HARRIS: The Pacific Rim is really a perfect place for our exported goods. Being in Washington state, having two deep water ports in access to those facilities, just makes it make sense for business to occur and to be able to have a viable export industry.
Harris says that Vietnam is a rapidly expanding market and holds very strong potential for Washington’s potato industry.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.