NABC welcomes Congressional action to eliminate Japanese tariffs on frozen U.S. blueberries
May 23, 2023

More than 30 legislators representing blueberry growers across the U.S. have sent a letter to key government officials urging them to improve access to the Japanese market.

The letter was addressed to USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging them to "make a technical amendment to the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement to ensure that U.S. frozen blueberries receive the same duty-free access to Japan's market as fresh and dried blueberries and other frozen berries do”, according to information provided by the North American Blueberry Council.

The lawmakers specified in the letter that "doing so will allow U.S. farmers to compete on a level playing field with other blueberry exporting countries, and would help save and revitalize market opportunities for U.S. berry farmers."

The U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement went into effect in 2020, eliminating Japan's tariffs on fresh and dried blueberries, but omitted frozen blueberries from this relief. U.S. exports of frozen blueberries to Japan continue to face a 6% or 9.6% tariff, depending on sugar content.

"We applaud Representatives Larsen and Valadao, and Senator King for their leadership on this important issue that directly and indirectly affects all U.S. blueberry growers," said Kasey Cronquist, president of the North American Blueberry Council (NABC).

He added, "Japan is a vitally important market for U.S. frozen blueberry producers, but our industry is at a significant disadvantage relative to competitors in Canada and the European Union, which have tariff-free trade with Japan for all forms of blueberries. There is no apparent reason why the tariff on frozen blueberries was left intact after the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement eliminated tariffs on fresh and dried blueberries. However, this omission has caused the U.S. to lose significant market share. 

We appreciate the administration's efforts to increase exports to Asia, including the upcoming trade mission to Japan, and its work to address non-tariff barriers, through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. However, until this tariff is eliminated, frozen blueberry producers will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage."