Salmon Trumped


Donald Trump on the campaign trail pushing his America-first agenda/Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

China might have decided against imposing tariffs on Alaska salmon off which Chinese businesses make an estimated $1.5 billion, but the Trump administration has taken a different view.

As part of President Donald Trump’s plan to “Make America Great Again,” the government is imposing on a 10 percent tariff on Alaska seafood processed in China only to be shipped back to the U.S.

Alaska sells an estimated $1.3 billion in seafood to China. Much of it is processed there and then shipped back to American consumers who spend $2.7 billion on the imports, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Much of that seafood is salmon headed and gutted in the 49th state later to be fileted and deboned in China where labor is cheap. Sometimes because it is North Korean slave labor, according to a 2017 Associated Press investigation.

Salmon processors, which once had salmon canneries ringing the Alaska coast, have over the years been steadily moving processing operations offshore. As a result, Bristol Bay, the heart of Alaska’s valuable red salmon fishery, has been bleeding population for years.

Brad Angasan, now a resident of Alaska’s largest city, in 2016 recounted for Saveur magazine how his home village of South Naknek  had shrunk from 150 people to fewer than 70.

“He blames that steep decline on the loss of the village’s packing plants,” wrote Alex Testere. “Many years ago, South Naknek housed two processing plants and two fish camps, which housed seasonal workers and fishermen. Now, ‘off those four, none of them process anymore—Trident Seafoods was the last, back in the ‘90s,’ says Angasan.

“Last fall, the last fish camp shut down too. The same thing has happened to the Native villages up and down the peninsula, so that hardly any local jobs remain. With nothing else near enough to commute to, more and more families are moving to big cities like Anchorage. ‘It’s potentially a death knell for our community,’ Angasan says. Once too few families with children remain to justify keeping the local school open, the rest move away too, and the village dissolves along with the Native community it contained and many of the traditions that community upheld.”

Salmon processing in Alaska by large corporations echoes the issue of outsourcing jobs to other countries about which Trump loves to rant. He last year promised to “reward firms that maintain jobs in the United States, and deliver punitive measures against those that move operations offshore,” Reuters reported.

“‘It’s both a carrot and a stick,’ Trump said. ‘It is an incentive to stay. But it is perhaps even more so – if you leave, it’s going to be very tough for you to think that you’re going to be able to sell your product back into our country.'”

Alaska gets the stick

Forty-ninth state products processed in China pop-up specifically on the new Trump tariff list released this week – most notably in the form of sockeye salmon, almost all of which come from Alaska.

The U.S. tariff order blames all of this on China for responding “to the initial action by imposing increased duties on goods of the United States. In light of China’s decision to respond to the (unfair trade) investigation by imposing duties on U.S. goods, the Trade Representative proposes a modification of the action taken in this investigation.

‘The proposed modification is to maintain the original $34 billion action and the proposed $16 billion action, and to take further action in the form of an additional 10 percent ad valorem duty on products of China with an annual trade value of approximately $200 billion.”

The document goes on to list dozens upon dozens of products from China that will be hit with the new tariff. Among them:

  • “Sockeye salmon (red salmon) (Orncorhynchus nerka), frozen, excluding fillets, other meat portions, livers and roes;
  • “Pacific salmon, other than sockeye, frozen, excluding fillets, other meat portions, livers and roes;
  • “Herring, salmon, Alaskan pollock, mullet, other fist liver and roes, frozen;
  • “Salmon fillets, fresh or chilled;
  • “Frozen salmon fillets, skinned, in blocks weighing over 4.5 kg (kilograms), to be minced, ground or cut into pieces of uniform weight;
  • “Other frozen salmon fillets;
  • “Salmon, in brine or salted but not dried or smoked;
  • “Prepared or preserved salmon, whole or in pieces, but not minced, other than in oil and in airtight containers.”

Suffice to say, pretty much everything salmon coming back to the U.S. from China is covered by a tariff. Halibut, other flatfish, pollock and cod are also on the list, but the big issue for Alaska is salmon.

“Salmon harvesting employment…represents the majority of Alaska’s commercial fishing jobs,” according to the Alaska Department of Labor. Salmon jobs, in fact, top the combined number of jobs for crab, halibut, other groundfish, sablefish, shellfish and herring fishing in the state.

What exactly the salmon tariffs will mean for the commercial fishing industry this year, however, is unclear. Maybe nothing. The new tariffs aren’t scheduled to start until September, by which time the Alaska fishing season is winding down,. And there is a possibility the tariffs could be dropped before they are imposed.

Hearings are scheduled to be held, and the seafood industry is actively lobbying. Seafood News lamented in an editorial that “China for many years has been the fastest growing global market for high-end seafood.  All seafood companies selling into China have been investing millions of dollars to build their brands and country of origin recognition.

“ASMI (the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute) has made China one of its more significant targets for export growth.  Alaska Gov. Bill Walker led an export mission last month to China that featured a number of Alaskan seafood companies.   All this money will go up in smoke.  ASMI says it will turn to other markets.  But it is more expensive to mount campaigns in four or five different countries than in a single large market like China.  The impact of the seafood industry dollars spent on ASMI will decrease.

“Even worse, if ordinary Chinese see the U.S. as attempting to bully their country, they may turn against American goods.  China has a very nationalistic streak, and at times this has led to riots against Japanese seafood companies in China, when tensions between those two countries were high.  The US risks getting drawn into a similar relationship, where Chinese consumers actively seek to buy anything but American products.

“Finally, much of the growth in high-end seafood consumption in China has been driven by the exponentially growing e-commerce networks, the rapid build out of the cold chain, and the pioneering hour to your door delivery systems.”

Despite all the talk about developing markets, Seafood editor John Sackton conceded at the end of his editorial that the big issue for Alaska is with reprocessing.

“There is a particular problem with US exports for reprocessing from Alaska,” he wrote.  “The fact is that over time a supply chain has developed where a substantial amount of pollock, cod, and salmon is caught in Alaska, sent to China for processing, and re-imported into the US as twice frozen blocks, frozen fillets and value added products. Many of these products are produced with very narrow margins, so there is little room to absorb the higher tariff cost.

“This puts prices to Alaska fishermen at risk for such things as pink salmon and pollock.”

He conceded some small, domestic producers might benefit, but “the few instances where a domestic producer may benefit are hugely offset by the far larger groups that will see their businesses hurt.  That is why everyone is so upset.”

Some of the country’s top economists continue to warn that Trump has started a trade war to save U.S. jobs that is destined to lead to major U.S. job losses, but there is some debate about that. 













31 replies »

  1. “First off, it is Saturday morning. Secondly, which part do you disagree with? Now Obama, I can go on for days with facts about what an incompetent Marxist stooge (with an unlimited checkbook) looks like.’

    First off, Sat is my Sun.

    Second off, how is it possible to reply to something THAT stupid?

    • Hmm, figured that would be your response. Let me help you. Obama’s father was a leftist anti-colonialist subversive in Kenya, and his mother was a Marxist. His step father in Indonesia was also a Marxist. By his own account, Obama barely had any time in America to soak up any pro-capitalist, pro-freedom concepts at all. Obama’s grandparents were Communists. Obama’s associates (Aires, Dunn, Jones, etc.) Were self admitted Communists. Obama even got his political start in a Communist, domestic terrorists living room – William Aires. So, carry on, I’ll be drinking my coffee with stupid.

      • Oh, and Obama’s mentor (Frank Marshall Davis, from 10yo through college was a communist and on the FBI Communist Watch List.

      • Oh, and the Marxist took the National Debt from the last 250yrs at $9.5 trillion to doubling it in 8yrs to $20 trillion with nothing to show for it other than millions more on the gov dole. Some would call that a form of dependent “slavery”, which would stand true to the party.

      • Bryan,
        Even Barack Hussein Obama himself has admitted he never spent much time with his biological father.
        What is interesting to me is that his mom’s new partner was CIA in Indonesia during one of the most violent periods in modern world history (Barack and his mom were there as well).
        Yet, in light of an “Indonesian Genocide” while he was growing up, he still speaks “highly” of his childhood in Indonesia. WTF?

  2. Wow….
    I forgot what the article was about after reading all this.

    Americans selling out their own country for the almighty dollar. Typical. Hope they choke on their Chinese prepared fish.

    • Sorry Zip, you are correct. I seem to be one of the biggest offenders that gets sidetracked. I apologize. But, it is the comments section and a good debate can be interesting to a certain extent.

      • No need to apologize. It’s just after I had read the article, I was going to comment. However before I comment I always like to read what others have to say.

        When I had finished reading all the comments, I found myself laughing because for the life of me I could no longer remember what the article was about or what I was going to originally comment.

        Good stray. It’s all good.

    • And the Clinton Foundation and 20% of America’s uranium?Where are those 2 found in your “dirty laundry”? In the SPIN cycle?
      I mean, wow, bringing up Russian corruption without mentioning the Clinton’s or Obama’s. Bit narrow minded no?

      • “Uranium One, which is now wholly-owned subsidiary of Rosatom, sells uranium to civilian power reactors in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration. But U.S. owners and operators of commercial nuclear reactors purchase the vast majority of their uranium from foreign sources. Only 11 percent of the 50.6 million pounds purchased in 2016 came from U.S. domestic producers, according to the EIA.”

        Sound familiar?
        We have to “BUY” back Uranium produced in our own country from Russia?
        We have to “BUY” back our Alaskan caught Salmon from China?
        And Walker thinks it is a good idea to sell our gasline rights to China?
        If Communist Super Powers own the means of production within our country, where are we headed?

      • Steve, Uranium went from the USA through the Clinton’s, to thw Russians, then to the Iranains. As for who the Communists/Marxists/Socialists/Nazis, well, just look as far as the Democrat Party of today. Mao Xmas bulbs on the White House Xmas tree, Van jones a self admitted commie and Obama Czar with his very own show on CNN. Bernie Sanders who honeymooned in tje Soviet Union while thousands were killed.

    • Steve, please check your sources first: ” The Annenberg Foundation was originally founded by Walter J. Annenberg, a conservative who supported Ronald Reagan. However, when Walter Annenberg died, his family took over the management of the foundation and it took a turn to the far left and has ties to radical left individuals such as Bill Ayers and his friend and fellow left wing radical collegue Barack Obama. How is associated with these people:

      To start, Ayers was the key founder of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was a Chicago public school reform project from 1995 to 2001. Upon its start in 1995, Obama was appointed Board Chairman and President of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Geesh, that alone connects all three. Well, it branches out even more from there.

      Ayers co-chaired the organization’s Collaborative, which set the education policies of the Challenge. Oddly enough, Obama was the one who was authorized to delegate to the Collaborative in regards to its programs and projects. In addition to that, Obama often times had to seek advice and assistance from the Ayer’s led Collaborative in regards to the programmatic aspects of grant proposals. Ayers even sat on the same board as Obama as an “ex officio member”. They both also sat together on the board of the CAC’s Governance Committee. Obama and Ayers were two parts of a group of four who were instructed to draft the bylaws that would govern the CAC. Keep in mind that the “A” in CAC is for Annenberg, the owners of The funding for Ayer’s projects and those of his cronies was approved by Board Chair, Barack Obama.”

      • Bryan,
        Not trying to say that the Clinton’s are not evil Bastards…cause they are.
        Just trying to point out that Obama could have stepped in and stopped the most recent sale of claims in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Arizona…..he did not.
        He received the Nobel “peace prize” while U.S. drones were killing thousands of Arabs away from the gentle lenses of Fox News reports…
        It appears all of our presidents since JFK was murdered have been willing to sell out our National Interests for the “Global Bankers” and a small take of the profit.
        Either way, it is not good that Russia is controlling large stakes in the profitable Uranium mining industry in the U.S.
        How much does our government give the Russians annually in Uranium sales?

      • Steve, In 2013, Russia’s state-run uranium monopoly, Rosatom, purchased a Canadian mining company, Uranium One, in which it had previously held a controlling interest. Uranium One owns a controlling interest in other global uranium companies, whose owners have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Clinton Foundation, with pledges of millions more.

        Uranium is a highly sensitive material key to nuclear weapons, and the Uranium One sale was approved by various Obama administration agencies, including the U.S. State Department then headed by Hillary Clinton. In 2017, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee opened an investigation into Russia’s purchase of Uranium One following New York Times reports that Russian business people with close financial ties to Uranium One donated millions to the Clinton Foundation before and after the sale. The deal gave Uranium One, and thus Russia, access to 20 percent of the U.S. uranium market. That’s problematic for two reasons: 1. The United States has to import uranium because it can’t produce enough on its own; and 2. It suggests a potentially serious breach of national security, possibly greased by corruption. The agreement enabled the Clintons to reap a financial windfall for their foundation and Bill personally.

        Vladimir Putin launched a quest to increase the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom’s) control of uranium worldwide. According to Casey Research, “Among other things, [Putin] is working to corner the uranium market – his country already controls 40% of global uranium enrichment capacity, the lion’s share of the world’s downblending facilities, and a fair chunk of the world’s uranium resources.”

        As part of Putin’s plan, Rosatom, which he backs, planned to find a way to own uranium produced inside the United States. Under the tenets of the deal, Rosatom was allowed to buy a controlling interest in Uranium One, a Canadian company, which just happened to have contracts to mine uranium here in the United States. Specifically, it owns 20 percent of our uranium.

      • > Either way, it is not good that Russia is controlling large stakes in the profitable Uranium mining industry in the U.S.

        Note that Uranium mining is not currently profitable anywhere, at current market prices. Especially in the U.S., where the cost is greater.

      • Ok, fair enough, how about Trump releases his tax returns when Obama releases his transcripts and finanical aide records? I mean, he is the smartest man on the planet right or at least I have been told he is? Why does Obama pay milkions to keep them sealed? Maybe he can release his writings from the Harvard Law Review as well…

  3. I agree with Steve and Brian pretty much. I also have to add it’s pretty evil side of capitalism that Chinese use North Koreans, effectively as a captive slave labor force . If China wanted north koreas situation to be better it would be . When a worker is paid less than a fair wage its not fair trade and it’s a form of slavery if the workers have little other choice. Sure it might be better wages than in – N Korea but you must ask why is North Korea in the position it’s in ? Well thank China right ? They have done very very little to help Korea in any way. Just fed its anti American fears and supported it in its dead end street against America.china has not been what I call a freind to n Korea . It has helped keep them captive. My question is why do we do any trade of any kind with China ? They make Americans look like magnanimous saints. Even when we are callous to our own social issues. I guess you could thank our past politicians who were paid off to make bum trade deals or completely naive to China’s ethics. Is the argument that if we start trading with China their ethics will get better ? If we are invested in them and they in us then we can’t fight ? That’s a double edged sword in my opinion. I say triple the tariffs until China treats its people and friends fairly and gives fair considerations to its environment and ground water . Which is polluted beyond belief. Any support of trade with China is support of its policy in my opinion. The destruction of our metal and textile manufacturing, wood products industry, technology industry due to reckless trade agreements by our unseeing politicians is irresponsible. Damages our nation. It’s wage strength and it’s companies strength. I have heard of many American buisness s that had to stop or struggle due to our current trade policy. Sure fish will be more expensive that comes back into America but maybe those people who buy it will have a job to pay the extra amount rather than being completely out of work due to reckless trade agreements. That’s my opinion.

    • Opinion, what you are witnessing in China and N. Korea is hard core Communism. The Chinese realize a true Communist society dies under its own weight, unlike N. Korea, Venezulla, Vietnam, Cuba, etc.. So, they sprinkle controlled Capitalism in. Granted, some are quazzi Socialist, but the results are the same. Sadly, a large portion of America now supports this failed Socialism. What is going on in China with N. Korea is classic totalitarian slave labor camps. Has nothing to do with Capitalism.

      • Russia is also utilizing the North Korean “Slave” labor…
        What we are seeing is a unification of the “Red Star” not seen in modern times.
        It would be wise for the U.S. to leverage China to help with the North Korean situation.
        It is a terrible idea to continue to allow Chinese and Russian Government banks to invest in companies on U.S. soil.
        Canada has had a terrible time with labor issues once they allowed the bank of China to build a pipeline on Canadian soil.

  4. We sell 1.3 billion dollars worth of salmon to the Chinese, who then add 1.5 billion in value to our fish and sell it back to us. For John Sackton to say “Many of these products are produced with very narrow margins” is asinine. We’ve added 1.5 billion to the chinese economy that should be, and used to be, in the Alaskan economy. We need more value added products leaving Alaska, bring our fish back and leave the value here.

  5. Have to say that every time Trump has been labelled wrong by his detractors, he has ended up correct. Time tells all, so let this one play out. China has been sucking the blood out of us from willing greed on our end, all in the name of cheap, slave labor. Trump is a billionaire from being a savy businessman. I am not! He has dealt personally with the Chinese, Russians, etc.. over the years. When it comes to business, the economy, it is Trump’s expertise. I am pretty sure if Trump was govenor of Alaska he’d have no problem turning the state around over the bellyaches.

      • First off, it is Saturday morning. Secondly, which part do you disagree with? Now Obama, I can go on for days with facts about what an incompetent Marxist stooge (with an unlimited checkbook) looks like.

    • How do we really know, that he is a billionaire? He has never released his tax returns. His businesses have declared bankruptcy 4-6 times. The Trump University, which was a total real estate school scam, had to deal with a lawsuit.
      Trump settled, since he did not want it to taint his presidency. So, now he is the trade guru? We will see how it all plays out!
      This discussion, reminds of an article I read a couple years ago. A reporter answered the job call for 300 workers, to pick grapefruit in a Florida citrus grove. Only 10 Caucasian US citizens showed up, the rest were migrant workers, majority of Hispanic ancestry. At the end of first day, the reporter (one of the Caucasians), was the only white guy left. The job was climbing a ladder, with a large canvas bag on your shoulder, pick & put fruit in bag (75-100 lbs), climb down ladder, dump fruit in a large wooden tote, repeat process, for 10-12 hours per day. You were paid on how much fruit you could pick. The reporter lasted two days. His production was minimal to what the migrants picked.
      Ronald Reagan (the great communicator), granted 11 million illegal immigrants, a waiver and to start on the path to US citizenship, since his California farmer buddies told him, no US citizen will work the farms. The migrants in our country do all the farm work, that Americans refuse to do.
      Same with Alaska, in the ‘50s thru early ‘70s, it was first the Chinese and then Filipino workers who processed all the seafood in Alaska, plus majority of salmon, at that point in time, was canned. US students were next in line in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when salmon started being shipped out fresh, though the majority was now frozen H&G. The last twenty years, Hispanic workers are now doing majority of gutting, cleaning and processing of all salmon in Alaska. US recruiters, working with Mexican companies, are bringing them up from Mexico on 6 month work visas. Why? you ask, because no Alaskan wants to work the salmon slime line. I have done it, in Bristol Bay, and it is cold, wet and repetitive work, for starting pay of $9-10 an hour. Back when I did it, $3-4 per hour.
      Say the same thing about the timber business, I personally witnessed the whole logs being loaded onto Japanese cargo ships, by the billions of board feet, at the log transfer site in Longview, WA. The US government, along with many private land owners sold raw logs to overseas buyers, for over 4 decades. Why was that done?
      So, do not go blaming China or any of our other trading partners, on our trade deficit, because in fact we are the ones, who did it to ourselves.
      Washington State apples, hay, pears, cherries and wine products, are a huge plus, against the trade deficit. Washington and Alaska both export more dollars worth of products, than they import in from China.
      So, tell me how, the new US tariffs are going to economically, environmentally and socially help these two states?

      • Forgot to discuss US soybean farmers, who export large amount of their harvested crops to China. The US tariffs will negatively effect, the same people, who voted for Trump. Now that makes lots of sense.
        The Chinese government, announced last week, that they are going to subsidize their farmers to up their soybean production.
        The old adage is true: Trade wars do not and never have worked. All it does, is drive your customers to other sellers.
        We will see how the heartland of America, deals with less value for their crops, while seed, fuel, fertilizer, machinery and all other components of a typical US farm, rise in price and costs.

      • > The US tariffs will negatively effect, the same people, who voted for Trump. Now that makes lots of sense.

        Trump was out golfing during the lecture on Smoot-Hawley.

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