The ongoing trade war with China has taken a big bite out of Alaska seafood’s market share.
The Trump Administration imposed tariffs of 25 percent or more on U.S. seafood going to and from China starting last July.
Till then, China had been Alaska’s biggest export partner for seven years running, purchasing $800 million worth of wild seafood in 2017, a nearly 30 percent increase.
But the tariffs have pushed down Alaska seafood exports to China by one fifth compared to last year.
“Of the members that responded back to us, 65 percent reported they had immediate lost sales from the increase of these tariffs, 50 percent reported delays in their sales, and 36 percent reported that they lost customers in China just due to these tariffs. Another 21 percent reported that they had unanticipated costs because of the trade conflict.’
Jeremy Woodrow, acting director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, spoke to the Alaska House Fisheries Committee in Juneau last week.
Soured relations between the U.S. and China also make buyers more reluctant to purchase Alaska seafood Woodrow said.
ASMI promotes seafood to over 120 countries and runs eight promotional offices throughout Asia and Europe. Inroads are being made in other countries like Spain and Brazil, but the loss of China could leave a lasting hurt.
“I think everybody would love to be able to pivot and find new markets rather quickly, but the Chinese market is something that the Alaska seafood industry and ASMI has been actively engaging in for over two decades. If we do get China back, that’s great. If not, we can expect it will take time to develop new markets.”
Meanwhile, another 25% tariff set to go in place March 1 has been halted for now.
A new report by economists from Columbia, Princeton, and the New York Federal Reserve explores the impacts of Trump’s trade policy on prices and pocketbooks.
In the short term, it says the U.S. has experienced substantial price increases, large changes to supply chain networks, a drop in the availability of imported varieties, and complete passthrough of the tariffs to domestic consumers. The report says real income for Americans dropped by $1.4 billion at the end of 2018.