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Asia Minute: China Trade Tariffs Hitting Seafood Imports


The continuing trade dispute between the United States and China is starting to hit a variety of products.  Last week, the Trump Administration slapped ten-percent tariffs on another 200-billion dollars of Chinese imports. One area that’s feeling the pinch: seafood.

The United States imports more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in this country. That statistic comes from NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The U.S. also exports seafood, but it’s an area where there’s a big trade deficit. NOAA says the U.S. exported about 5.5 billion dollars of seafood last year, and imported nearly four times that amount.

A lot of those imports come from China.

Reuters reports about 3-billion dollars of those Chinese seafood imports are now subject to ten-percent tariffs – scheduled to rise to 25-percent in January.

The biggest single seafood import from China is frozen tilapia. U.S. seafood suppliers knew the tariffs were coming, and bought up extra inventory ahead of time. IHS Market Data says U.S. importers boosted their tilapia supplies by 6-percent in June and July compared to a year earlier.

Other Chinese seafood that’s been stockpiled by distributors includes frozen salmon, scallops, and calamari.

Credit Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

What’s not clear is how long that extra inventory may last, and what the impact may be on prices or alternate sources of supply.

According to the New Delhi based Business Standard, one group expected to benefit from the tariffs on Chinese imports: seafood exporters based in India.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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