Politics may interfere with Asia's demand for Washington cherries
This is turning out to be a very good season for Washington cherry growers.
It could be a record harvest, with an increasingly global reach.
Asia has a growing appetite for Northwest cherries, but could politics disrupt this blossoming market?
Kyle Mathison, a fourth-generation cherry grower on Stemilt Hill in Wenatchee is increasingly sending his Northwest morsels to Asia.
In South Korea, you can find Wenatchee cherries stacked at street markets, among kimchi and fish.
It’s all thanks to a six-year-old trade deal, called KORUS, which slashed tariffs on products like cherries. According to the Northwest Cherry Growers, an industry association, cherry exports to Korea have grown steadily since the trade deal took effect. Today, they're double what they were four years ago.
China is eating them up, too. In 2013 the Pacific Northwest sent them 11,000 tons of cherries. This year, exports are expected to top 23,000 tons.
Recently however, the trade relationship with Korea has hit some turbulence.
“From when the U.S. - Korea trade deal was signed in 2011 to 2016, and you know who signed it, you know who wanted it, our trade deficit with South Korea has increased by more than $11 billion, not exactly a great deal,” President Donald Trump said from the White House lawn in June.
He says imports of Korean autos and steel are threatening American jobs and his administration is already in the process of reviewing and reforming the KORUS agreement.
The Northwest Cherry Growers Association says changes to the KORUS deal could have a big impact on the Washington fruit industry, though it's uncertain what, specifically, the President has in mind.
Publication date: 8/8/2017