US seafood hit in China tariff war

PARTS of the US seafood industry are being thrown into turmoil this week as a result of the escalating trade war between the United States and China.
The two states hardest hit are Alaska, which ships large consignments of cod and wild caught salmon to China, and Maine, which is at the heart of the US lobster industry.
Donald Trump first imposed 25 per cent tariffs on Chinese seafood, along with other goods, in July and Beijing immediately responded with a similar tariff on US seafood imports.
Now the President has announced further 10 per cent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including salmon, trout, tuna and squid, which brought a similar response from China last night.
Around 40 per cent of Alaskan salmon and 54 per cent of its cod normally goes to China and the industry there is worried.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said Alaskans were facing steep Chinese tariffs on these exports, adding that the prospect of a trade war of unknown duration was causing problems in her home state.
In Maine, on the US east coast, which has more than 4,000 registered lobstermen and 10,000 workers in the lobster industry, lay-offs have begun as shellfish prices dip and demand from China declines.
Exports to China during July and August were just a tenth of those during the same two months in 2017. Until the tariff war began, China was the largest overseas market for US live lobster.
There are also unconfirmed reports that US caught lobsters are being shipped to China via Canada with Canadian labels on the consignments. The Canadian authorities have said they plan to investigate these claims.
The Maine lobster dealers are also claiming that China is deliberately inflating prices to increase the tariffs on US imports.
This, they say, makes the Maine consignments more expensive and is giving rival exporters over the border a distinct competitive advantage.