Southern Shrimp Alliance wants US to maintain tariffs on Chinese imports

Two workers in China on a shrimp processing line.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance has called on the U.S. government to continue a 25 percent tariff on Chinese seafood imports, saying the additional levy has helped domestic producers “compete on a more-level playing field.”

The trade organization made its stance known in a Thursday, 30 June letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Four years ago, former U.S. President Donald Trump implemented Section 301 tariffs on an array of Chinese goods in response to that country’s policies regarding intellectual property and technology transfer. The U.S. government is currently conducting a two-phase review of the action, with Tuesday, 5 July the cutoff date for comments.

In the 11-page letter, SSA Executive Director John Williams said the trade action has forced U.S. importers to “wean themselves” off shrimp products that use significant amounts of antibiotics banned in the U.S.

“The shift away from Chinese sourcing has not only improved the ability of U.S. seafood producers, like those in our industry, to compete on a level playing field, but has further reduced risks to consumers and improved the quality of the fish available for sale in our market,” Williams said.

What it has not done, though, is reduce the impact imports have on the U.S. seafood industry. While Chinese seafood imports have declined from USD 2.8 billion (EUR 2.7 billion) in 2018 to USD 1.6 billion (EUR 1.5 billion) in 2021, U.S. seafood imports from elsewhere rose from USD 19 billion (EUR 18.5 billion) to USD 25.8 billion (EUR 25.2 billion) over the same timeframe.

In a statement, Williams said ending the additional tariff now “makes absolutely no sense” given the current economic state of U.S. shrimpers, who still must contend with cheaper imports as well as rising fuel costs.

“It wouldn’t just kick us while we were down, it would also undo everything that has been achieved in weaning U.S. importers off of cheap, contaminated, unsafe farmed seafood from China,” he said.

Photo courtesy of chinahbzyg/Shutterstock  


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