Seafood fears as Trump trade war grows

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SEAFOOD com­pa­nies in the United States are wait­ing anx­iously to see what im­pact the grow­ing trade war be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing will have on their busi­nesses.

US tar­iffs to­talling $34 bil­lion on Chi­nese goods have re­cently come into ef­fect. China im­me­di­ately hit back, im­pos­ing 25 per cent tar­iffs on US ex­ports, in­clud­ing some types of fish and seafood.

How­ever, seafood sent for pro­cess­ing, as long as it is re-ex­ported back to the US or else­where, is ex­empt. Some fish­meal prod­ucts will also es­cape.

But a lot of Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, es­pe­cially those in Alaska, the largest fish­ing state in the US, sell di­rectly into China and they are ex­pect­ing to be hit.

Fur­ther­more, it puts them at a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage to ri­val seafood ex­port­ing coun­tries such as Nor­way and Rus­sia.

But some trade an­a­lysts in Oslo fear that if the trade war es­ca­lates fur­ther it could even­tu­ally im­pact on Nor­we­gian salmon ex­ports to the US.

In the last few weeks, the US seafood in­dus­try has pleaded with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to avoid a trade war at all costs, but the plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Bei­jing has ac­cused the US of trig­ger­ing the largest trade war in eco­nomic his­tory.

Lu Kang, a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman, said: ‘Af­ter the US ac­ti­vated its tar­iff mea­sures against China, China’s mea­sures against the US took ef­fect im­me­di­ately.’

China is a big mar­ket for Alaska, worth up to a bil­lion dol­lars a year, with half of that fig­ure be­ing sent di­rectly to China for home con­sump­tion.

Con­sul­tant Gar­rett Evridge, who works closely with the Alaska Seafood Mar­ket­ing In­sti­tute, be­lieves the po­ten­tial dam­age to the in­dus­try is dif­fi­cult to guess at this stage, but he warned that the sit­u­a­tion was wor­ry­ing.

Above: Crab legs

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