The North Pacific seafood industry — much of it headquartered in Washington — will get slammed with a wide range of retaliatory tariffs on exports to China, an important and growing market.
The products covered by the tariffs include frozen pollock, cod, pink and sockeye salmon, snow and Dungeness crab and herring, according to SeafoodNews.com, an industry publication that put the dollar value of Alaska exports to China at more than $750 million in 2017.
Some Northwest exports, such as geoducks, also are included in the tariffs announced Friday.
The tariffs are calculated on the imported cost of the products, including previous tariffs, and are scheduled to take effect July 6.
Major exporters include Trident Seafoods, a Seattle company that has been making infrastructure investments in China to help improve its market share.
Jeff Welbourn, senior director of Trident’s China office, said in an article published earlier this month in China Daily that Trident believes the China market is “incredibly important for our future.”
Alaska pollock producers also have been seeking to grow their market share in China amid tough competition with Russia.
“This is the biggest market in the world, and to have the U.S. at a disadvantage to every competitor is a big deal,” said Jim Gilmore, public affairs director for the Seattle-based At-Sea Processors Association, which represents six companies that catch and process pollock off Alaska.
Much of the Alaska seafood sent to China is reprocessed and then re-exported elsewhere.
John Sackton, editor of SeafoodNews.com, indicated that these products would be subject to the tariffs. “They (China) were quite explicit on how this is going to work,” he said.
But Gilmore said he was still uncertain whether products targeted for re-export will be covered by the new tariffs.
Jamie Goen, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, also on Friday was unclear whether reprocessed products will be subject to the tariff. If they are, that would be a much bigger impact, she said, since much of the Alaska snow crab sent to China is picked of its meat and then re-exported.