With trade war looming, data shows China still reliant on US seafood market

Published on
March 29, 2018

China is readying sanctions against the United States in a rapidly escalating trade war, but seafood appears to be off the table for now.

Seafood trade between the two countries is complex, but is generally weighed in favor of China, giving the country less room to extend sanctions in seafood, according to data from key production regions. And while the U.S. was China’s second-most important supplier of imported seafood in 2017, the data makes it clear that Chinese seafood exporters continue to rely heavily on American buyers. 

Export data from Zhanjiang, in Guangdong Province – a key region for shrimp and tilapia production and home to shrimp giant Guolian Aquatic – exported CNY 750 million (USD 119.1 million, EUR 96.8 million) worth of seafood in the first two months of 2018, up 39.5 percent on the same period last year. The U.S. was by far and away the top buyer of Zhanjiang exports in that time period, taking CNY 300 million (USD 47.6 million, EUR 38.7 million)  worth of product, up 14.8 percent year-on-year. That figure dwarfs those of other markets, despite much talk locally of increasing sales to developing countries.

In the same timeframe, Zhanjiang exported CNY 100 million (USD 15.9 million, EUR 12.9 million) of seafood to Mexico, a rise of 59.9 percent. Sales to Africa rose 20 percent to CNY 44.2 million (USD 7 million, EUR 5.7 million), while Taiwan bought CNY 41.8 million (USD 5.4 million, EUR 6.6 million) worth of seafood from Zhanjiang. 

Interestingly, foreign-owned firms accounted for CNY 380 million (USD 60.3 million, EUR 49.1 million) of sales, compared to CNY 370 million (USD 58.8 million, EUR 47.8 million) worth of sales credited to local privately-owned firms. 

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