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"Reducing Tariffs on Pistachios, Supporting Jobs in California"

The guest blog below is written by Michael T. Roberts, Special Counsel to Paramount Farms International in Lost Hills, California.

Paramount Farms LogoHigh tariffs can stagnate an otherwise ripe market. There is no better example than the tariff on pistachios in India, which, until this year, carried one of the highest pistachio tariffs in the world at just over 30 percent.

Paramount Farms has followed this issue closely as the world’s largest vertically integrated grower and processor of pistachios. In tandem with our grower partners, we farm 125,000 acres (50,000 hectares) of pistachios in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which deliver 450 million pounds (204 million kilograms) of nuts annually. Our pistachios are sold worldwide under two brands: Wonderful® Pistachios and Everybody’s Nuts!® Pistachios.

For the last 10 years, our industry has worked closely with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and other federal agencies to reduce the tariff in India. Ultimately the combination of commercial and governmental advocacy, diplomatic efforts, and an India-focused approach paid off, and nearly two months ago Indian leadership reduced the tariff on pistachios from 30 percent to 10 percent. This news resulted in tremendous excitement throughout California’s Central Valley, and I had the good fortune of actually being in Delhi to see the enthusiasm locally for this win-win development.

People had good cause to celebrate in both locations. This tariff reduction, coupled with more efforts in outreach and advertising, will result in a dramatic increase in the consumption of California pistachios in India. When India’s tariff on almonds was similarly lifted in 2000, consumption there went from 48 million pounds annually to over 101 million pounds annually in just five years.

Such elevated demand will lead to sustained jobs stateside. Paramount Farms’s operations, along with our grower partners, employ over 6,000 people who work in the United States farming, processing, marketing and selling pistachios. The market increase in India will bolster these good jobs at home. India’s economy will also benefit from the tariff reduction. Paramount Farms alone has already made substantial investments in India, and will spend even more on local outreach, advertising, sales and marketing. This translates into greater economic opportunities in India, along with increased access to a healthy snack option.

India’s reduced tariff and market expansion is the result of sustained dialogue between U.S. industry and the U.S. and Indian governments, and is a great example of thoughtful policy providing a benefit for both trade partners. We at Paramount Farms look forward to working with all of our allies in this success to make sure this potential is realized and sustained.