ASMI says latest China tariffs likely to hit pollock, salmon, Pacific cod

An overview of rock fish being sorted by workers at the Trident Seafoods plant assembly line in Kodiak, Alaska on Saturday May 27, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton / KMXT)

On Tuesday, the Trump administration proposed $200 billion in new tariffs on China, upsetting markets worldwide.

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Michael Kohan, with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, says those new tariffs include some that may affect Alaska seafood.

“This last recent development on July 11, the U.S. is going to impose 10 percent tariff on imports from China, which could include Alaska seafood product that has gone to China for reprocessing and then is being imported into the U.S. for the domestic market,” Kohan said.

Alaska seafood processors often head and gut fish then send them to China for secondary processing, and they are exported back to the U.S. or to other countries from there.

In June, China announced it would increase tariffs on U.S. seafood products in response to those set earlier by the U.S.

China added 25 percent to the existing tariffs on July 6.

After the decision, industry analysts said seafood reprocessed in China and then exported back to the U.S. would be exempt from the tariffs.

But this new announcement looks like it changes that.

That would be a major shift. China is the largest trading partner for Alaska seafood and is a major reprocessing sector for the U.S.

ASMI officials say Alaska companies export approximately $1 billion worth of Alaska seafood to China annually. Pollock, salmon and Pacific cod make up the bulk of Alaska fish sent to China for reprocessing, according to ASMI, and they’re included on the new tariff list.

ASMI has been active in the Chinese market for over 20 years, but Kohan says that could change.

“We have a large international market that we can apply our seafood to. So, as much as we are focussing on China right now, there are growing markets in other countries around the world,” Kohan said. “We will be trying to be able to develop markets that will enhance Alaska seafood in these markets that are growing in countries like Spain and Brazil.

ASMI officials say they’ll continue to analyze what the latest tariff announcement means for Alaska seafood, and they plan to submit comments to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

The latest proposed tariffs would go into effect in September.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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