Seafood companies that export to China – particularly exporters of live lobster and crab – have reason to be optimistic as the country has released a list of items eligible for tariff exclusions that includes over 40 seafood products.
The list, released recently, includes HS codes 03063290 – live lobster – and 03063399 – live crabs, among others. The inclusion of lobster on the list of items available for exclusion was welcomed by Maine’s congressional delegation soon after the announcement by China, which came as part of a “Phase One” deal reached by the U.S. and China. The country has already granted exemptions on a number of seafood goods.
“We welcome the promising development for Maine’s lobster industry that China may exclude [USD] 300 million [EUR 276 million] worth of U.S. seafood imports from tariffs,” Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, as well as Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, said in a joint statement. “It is encouraging that China appears to be taking more steps to uphold the purchase agreements reached in the Phase One trade deal, and we will continue to monitor these developments to ensure China fulfills its obligation to buy American goods, including lobster, in amounts that exceed the level of purchases in 2017.”
Maine’s lobster industry was impacted particularly heavily by China’s implementation of tariffs, which kicked off in July, 2018. Data released in 2019 indicated that the state’s exports of live lobster to the country plunged by 84 percent in the wake of the tariffs.
Prior to the implementation of the tariffs, Maine was looking to have a record-setting year for exports to China with USD 87 million (EUR 80 million) in exports through June 2018, over double the previous year’s totals.
The news was also welcomed by the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association.
“This is definitely good news. The way that China is treating this is very similar to the exclusion process that we’ve been using in the United States,” Annie Tselikis, executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, told SeafoodSource.
The new exclusion means that Maine lobster, once companies in China go through the proper legwork, will be at the same tariff level as Canadian lobster.
“It will definitely allow us to be more competitive in the market again,” Tselikis said. “I’m glad that we’ve gotten to this point, any assistance in reclaiming that market is obviously beneficial.”
The Maine lobster industry did manage to cope well with the tariffs, buoyed by a strong frozen market, particularly for lobster tails.
Also included on the exclusion list were lobster seedlings, live fresh water prawns, frozen lobster, frozen cold water shrimp, and more – all under the HS 0306 prefix.
Photo courtesy of Ken Schulze/Shutterstock