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China still wants lobsters and pork, just not the American ones

At the start of the summer, a group of officials from Maine wrote to President Donald Trump, urging financial support for the state's iconic lobster industry.

China was once the second-largest importer of Maine lobster, but then Beijing's retaliatory tariffs hit.

In 2018, the market died and US lobster exports to China fell by 80% compared with a year earlier, when Chinese lobster lovers bought $128.5 million of the crustacean.

But China has not lost its taste for the delicacy; it is getting lobsters from somewhere else.

The shift illustrates how Trump's trade war is reshaping the global economy, sometimes in ways that hurt his own country.

Over the first half of 2019, Canadian lobster sales to China were almost equivalent to their total for 2018, according to the Associated Press, as the same species of lobster exported from Maine is also found in waters off Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

China still wants lobsters and pork, just not the American ones

US lobster exports to China fell by 80% in 2018.

On September 1, things got worse for American lobstermen when a new raft of Chinese tariffs came into effect. With frozen Maine lobsters now subject to a tariff of 45%, after an increase of 10%, Canadian fishermen can look forward to more and bigger paydays ahead.

The lobster industry is only one of the American food businesses that are losing market shares in the world's most populous nation.

Soybeans, wheat and pork were also on the new tariff list, and the US' loss will be other nations' gain.

Chinese buyers are sourcing their food from nations with lower-tariff access to Chinese ports, a trend that will deepen as tariffs on the US rise.

The tariff on yellow beans, which account for the bulk of US soybean exports to China, has risen to 33%, compared to just 3% from Brazil and Argentina, China's other major suppliers.

The gap created by the trade war has allowed Brazilian rivals to dramatically grow their market share in China.

US food producers are losing market shares in China because of the trade war.

A survey of 400 US farmers released on Tuesday found that 71% are not expecting a trade war resolution soon.

The survey, conducted by Purdue University in Indiana, also found that 71% of farmers think that government subsidies have helped offset the effects of tariffs, while 58% expect more help in 2020.

American wheat farmers, meanwhile, have also been losing out to their Canadian rivals.

US wheat flours, grains, starches and seeds are now subject to a range of higher tariffs of up to 90%, while tariffs on US frozen pork have risen to 72% at a time when China is desperate for imports because of the African swine fever outbreak at home.

US pork exports to China are declining despite China's desperation for pork imports.

But far from taking advantage of China's pork shortage, US pork exports to China are declining.

For the week ending August 15, US farmers exported just 7,600 tons of pork to China, compared to nearly 22,000 tons over the same week a year earlier, according to data published by United States Department of Agriculture.

Instead, the market is going to European rivals, particularly Spain and Germany, as well as growing agricultural power Brazil.

In July, the National Pork Producers' Council complained that America's pig farmers "are demonstrating enormous commitment to the greater good of our country as they shoulder a disproportionate share of trade retaliation against the US."

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