Siam Canadian CEO: Trump could be bad news for US shrimp importers : November 14, 2016
Tom Seaman : Undercurrentnews
The anti-global trade rhetoric of incoming US president Donald Trump is troubling for US farmed shrimp and whitefish buyers and suppliers, according to Jim Gulkin, CEO of Siam Canadian Group.
Seeing as Trump ran on a promise of protecting American industries producing for the domestic market, lobbyists for the US wild shrimp and farmed catfish sector — the Southern Shrimp Alliance and the Catfish Farmers of America — “could very likely get his ear”, Gulkin told Undercurrent News.
“If they do, I certainly would expect more protectionist measures to come into place. More anti-dumping and countervailing duties,” he said.
The US is hugely reliant on imports for shrimp. Through September in 2016, the US has imported 429,890 metric tons, worth $3.96 billion. The main sources of supply for the US in 2016 are Indonesia, India, Ecuador, Thailand, Vietnam and China.
With regards to farmed whitefish, the US is also a massive market, with pangasius and tilapia the two main species imported. US catfish imports, the bulk of which is pangasius from Vietnam, were 100,650t for January through September, worth $298.91 million.
For tilapia, the main source of which is China, imports through September were 150,220t, worth $583.35m.
In fact, supply of all seafood from China could “be an early casualty” of Trump’s presidency, if he goes through with his threatened trade sanctions and tariffs, said Gulkin.
Trump has called China a “currency manipulator” and said he would favor a 45% tariff on Chinese imports to the US.
According to recent data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US imports from China through September of this year totaled 415,323 metric tons, worth $1.87bn.
If the US does proceed with sanctions on China, there is likely to be retaliation.
The same data shows that exports to China, including fish that is sent there for reprocessing and sent back to the US, totaled 313,525t in the same time period, worth $831.58m.
Trump’s anti-trade talk does not stop with China.
“One can safely assume that if he wants to tax imports from China, EU, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Korea, etc., etc., that those countries will retaliate with tariffs of their own. It’s always a two-way street,” said Gulkin.
“Global trade will definitely slow. How that will actually create jobs in the US is not quite clear to me, or anybody else who might pause to think about it,” he said.
For global trade in general, Trump has said he’s going to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US, Canada and Mexico.
“But, he should first check if Mexico and Canada think that is a good idea. Let’s assume not, so NAFTA may be history,” he said. Also, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade agreement with 12 Pacific rim countries, including the US but not China — looks unlikely to be ratified under Trump.
The TPP, involving the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, was signed on Feb. 4, but has not yet been ratified. “The TPP is not going to happen,” said Gulkin.
“Generally speaking, in terms of trade, trade agreements, international relations, military conflicts, political and military alliances, if Trump does even half of the things he said he would do during the campaign, the world is in big trouble. I don’t even want to imagine,” said Gulkin.