Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced legislation to protect and promote the United States’ domestic garlic industry. Panetta’s 20th District includes San Benito County, Morgan Hill and Gilroy, the home of Christopher Ranch, the nation’s leading garlic producer.
The Giving Agriculture Relief from Loopholes in International Commerce (GARLIC) Act would prevent harmful and unfair tariff engineering of Chinese dried garlic imports.
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule for dried garlic carries a 29.8 percent duty rate. However, current tariff line loopholes allow importers to classify their products as roasted, toasted, or as mixed vegetables and pay a lower duty rate, ranging from 8.3 percent to 11.2 percent. These products are then marketed as simply dried garlic to consumers. This trend has caused a decline in market share for US producers despite their ability to meet domestic demand.
“The central coast of California is home to some of the best garlic growers and processors in the world. Unfortunately, loopholes in our tariff schedule have allowed for Chinese garlic importers to disingenuously characterize their products in order to pay lower tariff rates, causing domestic producers to fight for a shrinking share of the market,” said Panetta in a statement. “The GARLIC Act will help to protect our producers from these unfair practices by closing this loophole.”
“It’s critical to create an environment where all businesses are operating on a level playing field so that domestic players are not disadvantaged,” said Greg Estep, of Olam Spices, which has its largest dried garlic plant in Gilroy. “We appreciate Congressman Panetta’s effort to ensure that appropriate tariffs are paid on imported dried garlic products, thereby protecting the jobs of thousands of California workers.”
The GARLIC Act clarifies the Harmonized Tariff Schedule so that roasted or toasted dried garlic remains under the dried garlic subheading. The legislation also clarifies the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to ensure that any mixtures of vegetables containing 50 percent or more by weight of dried garlic remain under the dried garlic subheading.