September 29, 2019


US shrimp farmers bats for hike in tariffs on Chinese shrimp imports


US shrimp farmers and processors from eight coastal states have thrown support to President Donald Trump's proposal to increase tariffs on certain Chinese imports, including Chinese shrimp, from 25% to 30%, saying this could further benefit US consumers.


Imports of farmed seafood products from China have been subject to an additional tariff imposed by the US Trade Representative (USTR) since Sept. 24, 2018. Initially set at 10%, these were increased to 25% effective last May 10.


According to timetable, the potential increase in tariffs to 30% is to take effect on Tuesday, Oct. 1, after the administration's request for comments from the public sector.


In comments addressed to USTR Robert Lighthizer, the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) noted that the tariffs have resulted in a significant decline in farmed seafood imports from China and, with it, "questionable seafood products from China".


During the first seven months, US imports of seafood products from China went down by roughly $150 million to $324 million from $475 million in the same period last year, the SSA said. 


It added that over $100 million of that decline could be attributed to a steep drop in shrimp imports, which fell from $168 million in the first seven months last year to just $65 million this year.


With the decline of Chinese farmed seafood imports, the number of Chinese seafood entry lines refused by the Food and Drug Administration in the first eight months has gone down to 86 from 231 in the same period last year. "While simply one datapoint, this information supports the belief that US seafood importers source questionable seafood products from China because of its availability at low prices", SSA stated.


"The imposition of significant tariffs appears to undermine the appeal of this competitive strategy [selling at low prices] and, in consequence, reduces the pressure on the FDA to prevent unsafe Chinese seafood from reaching American consumers".


In prior comments to the USTR, the SSA claimed that China accounted for 42% (1,310 out of 3,114) of the total amount of seafood entry lines refused by the FDA for veterinary drug residues over a 16-year period (2002-2017).