Tariffs on US imports from China will continue, the Trump Administration announced Wednesday. The trade war, which began last July, has hit the seafood industry on both sides.

China first imposed a 25 percent tariff on American seafood imports; the U.S. countered by hiking its taxes on incoming Chinese goods by 10 percent. SeafoodSource reports that Trump said he plans to “leave them on for a substantial period of time.”

China has been Alaska’s biggest export partner for seven years, purchasing $1.3 billion worth of seafood in 2017.

The tariffs pushed down 2018 seafood exports to China by one fifth compared to the previous year, and sales are off by more than 20 percent so far this year.  Coming and going, the taxes have hit nearly all Alaska seafood products.

                      March 28-30 in Kodiak

Jeremy Woodrow, acting director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, got a bleak review from an in-house survey of processors.

 “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.’

A new report by the National Bureau for Economic Research shows that U.S. imports from targeted countries, not just China, have dropped by nearly 32 percent, while American exports slumped by 11 percent. The end result is a loss of $7.8 billion.

The National Fisheries Institute – the trade group representing the U.S. seafood industry – issued a statement saying it is American businesses and consumers who are paying the extra fees.

NFI launched a Seafood, Sea Jobs video campaign last year to show the trickle down effects of the seafood tariffs. Project manager Lynsee Fowler

Seafood, Sea Jobs is meant to showcase what we call the faces and places of seafood jobs around America. We’re showing real people in real US cities with jobs that rely on seafood trade. Whether it’s a fisherman or a processor, a restaurant server or a trucker, it’s in seafood procurement, cold storage … the seafood community has diverse impacts that not everyone knows about. It’s a lot further down the supply chain where you see the impacts– and a lot of those jobs are in the heartland.”  

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