USTR reinstates expired tariff exclusions for certain seafood products

The Office of the United States Trade Representative

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced it has reinstated tariff exclusions on 352 products, including several seafood products facing additional tariffs on import from China.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced in October 2021 that the USTR would begin taking comments on whether the U.S. should renew tariff exceptions for 549 products from China, which the government chose to let expire. Initially, the USTR extended tariff exclusions on multiple seafood products in 2020.

“The Office of the United States Trade Representative today announced its determination to reinstate certain previously granted and extended product exclusions in the China Section 301 Investigation,” the USTR announced. “The reinstated product exclusions will apply as of October 12, 2021, and extend through December 31, 2022.”

Seafood products receiving another extension are:

  • Alaskan sole (yellowfin, rock, or flathead) frozen in blocks, with a net weight of more than 4.5 kilograms.
  • King crab meat, frozen in blocks and weighing at least 1 kilogram but not more than 1.2 kilograms, in airtight containers.
  • Snow crab meat (C. opilio), frozen in blocks, in airtight containers and with a net weight of no more than 1.2 kilograms.
  • Dungeness crab meat, frozen in blocks in airtight containers, with a weight of no more than 1.2 kilograms.
  • Any crab meat other than king, snow, Dungeness, or swimming crabs, frozen in blocks in airtight containers weight no more than 1.5 kilograms.

In addition, the USTR once again granted extensions to another set of seafood products listed under Harmonized Tariff Schedule codes:

  • Haddock, under code 0304.72.5000
  • Sole, under codes 0304.83.1015 and 0304.83.5015 – both skinned and in frozen blocks weighing over 4.5 kilograms imported to be minced or cut into pieces of uniform weights and dimensions, and the “other” category.
  • Flounder, under codes 0304.83.1020 and 0304.83.5020 – skinned and in frozen blocks weighing over 4.5 kilograms imported to be minced or cut into pieces of uniform weights and dimensions, and the “other” category.

“The reinstated exclusions are available for any product that meets the description in the product exclusion,” the USTR’s announcement reads.

All products eligible for a tariff exclusion will have them applied retroactively to 12 October, 2021.

Other seafood products that had tariff extensions expire in 2020, however, were once again absent from the USTR announcement. Frozen tilapia and crabmeat from red swimming crabs, which have borne the brunt of a 25 percent tariff since exceptions expired in August 2020, will continue to face the high tariffs.

The seafood goods all faced tariffs as high as 25 percent, a result of extended tit-for-tat tariffs between the U.S. and China that started when then U.S. President Donald Trump instituted tariffs on certain goods from China in January 2018. China later escalated the trade war in June 2018 and applied 25 percent tariffs on U.S. seafood products, beginning a series of tariff escalations that lasted for nearly two years until a “Phase One” U.S.-China trade deal was signed in January 2020.

Since then, the effectiveness of the “Phase One” deal has come into question after data found that China is still well short of seafood purchasing commitments it made under the deal. Data found that the country had barely reached half of its commitments on certain goods, such as lobster, as of October 2021.

Despite the ongoing trade issues, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) still welcomed the news that certain seafood goods would have tariff exclusions extended – a boon for the U.S. businesses that were importing the goods and paying substantial tariffs.  

“The U.S. Trade Representative’s decision to reinstate previously expired exclusions on fisheries products will not only benefit American workers throughout the seafood value chain but also will help make the healthiest animal protein on the planet more available and affordable,” NFI Vice President of Government Affairs Robert DeHaan said. “This is ultimately a tax cut for American families, at a time of significant supply chain and inflationary challenges.”  

Photo courtesy of Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock 


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500