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Rabobank: Chinese seafood industry bigger loser as trade war escalates

Tilapia, salmon and whitefish relies heavily on US market -- but both sides will suffer.

The Chinese seafood industry will likely be the bigger loser from the latest round of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in its escalating trade war with China, Rabobank analysts said.

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Last week Pacific cod, Alaska pollock, shrimp, salmon and tilapia products were among an extensive list of Chinese seafood imports potentially facing additional import tariffs of up to 10 percent as US President Donald Trump followed through on threats to step up his trade dispute with Beijing.

With both sides suffering, the seafood industry increasingly becomes a battleground in the simmering trade war between the United States and China.

"The Chinese tilapia industry is heavily dependent on the US market. And a major part of US salmon and whitefish is processed in China to be re-exported to the US," Rabobank said.

"Price hikes caused by the increased tariffs would adversely affect these industries."

At the same time, the trade war between the US and China is creating opportunities for other countries, Rabobank said in its report entitled "Caught in the Tariff Net -- US-China Trade War to Shift Global Seafood Trade Flows."

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The report went on to say that both the US and China will need new markets for their products and that high-value crustaceans, tilapia, shrimp, and squid trade flows between the US and China are expected to slow down.

Exporters to China such as Canada, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand, and exporters to the US, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, and Brazil will be among the winners as they can replace US and Chinese seafood exports, the report suggested.

But the story won't end there.

The Chinese government has already said it will complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and respond to the US with countermeasures.

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