Exemptions requested for seeds on tariff list

The American Seed Trade Association is requesting that seeds for sowing be exempted from the proposed list of supplemental retaliatory tariffs on China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The request was made recently in a formal letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“While we support the administration’s push for stronger intellectual property protection and enforcement globally, at the end of the day, the majority of these proposed tariffs will be levied on seeds owned by small and medium U.S.-based companies, not Chinese-owned corporations,” said ASTA President and CEO Andrew LaVigne. “For 2019, small and medium seed companies estimate tariff-related losses could range from $80,000 to $2,000,000 per company, depending on the company’s footprint in China. And the resulting cost will ultimately be felt by American farmers and consumers.”

The movement of seed globally for research, development and multiplication is critical for the ultimate commercialization of new varieties and the introduction of new, high performing varieties to America’s farmers and consumers. Many American seed companies send seed stock to China to be multiplied and then returned to the U.S. for further processing and packaging for American farmers or gardeners to purchase and plant it.

The United States is the largest market for seed in the world, and the largest global seed exporter. China is the second largest market for planting seeds after the U.S. According to USDA-FAS, the Chinese seed market was $17.2 billion in 2016. ASTA has worked with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture for over a decade and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China National Seed Association with the ultimate goal of developing stronger intellectual property understanding and protection for plant breeders in China.