Huizenga, Valadao, colleagues seek change in Japan’s frozen blueberry export tariffs

U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and David Valadao (R-CA) joined a bipartisan contingent of 32 other lawmakers in urging the Biden administration to work with its Japanese counterparts to eliminate Japan’s frozen blueberry tariffs in an effort to help support America’s farmers.

Japan’s tariffs on frozen blueberries have made American exports non-competitive compared to countries that are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and can freely trade with Japan in all blueberry products, according to a May 5 letter the members sent to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai.

“As a result, American frozen blueberry exports to Japan have been declining relative to those from top competitors like Canada and the European Union (EU) who enjoy tariff-free trade with Japan for all forms of blueberries,” wrote Reps. Huizenga and Valadao, and their colleagues, who included U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Reps. John Moolenaar (R-MI), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Rick Larsen (D-WA).

They added that the U.S. share of the Japanese frozen blueberry import market has declined year-over-year following CPTPP from 21 percent in 2018 to 15 percent in 2022, while at the same time, Canada has maintained a large market share, accounting for 57 percent of total import market share as of 2022. Also during that time period, the EU has more than doubled its market share to nearly 9 percent, wrote the representatives. 

“This inequality has been unaddressed for nearly four years, threatening business relationships between American farmers and importers in the third-largest international market for U.S. frozen blueberries,” Rep. Huizenga, Rep. Valadao, and their colleagues wrote.

The lawmakers urged the USTR to pursue a technical amendment to the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement to ensure U.S. frozen blueberries receive the same duty-free market access in Japan as fresh or dried blueberries, as well as other frozen berries.

“Doing so will allow U.S. farmers to compete on level terms with other blueberry exporting countries and would help save and revitalize market opportunities for U.S. berry farmers,” according to their letter.