Greg Schneider is a Senior International Trade Specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
In a span of just five years—2009 to 2014—U.S. fish and fish products such as frozen fish fillets, fish roe, crabs, cod, clams, and salmon exports to the world grew by 48 percent. In 2014, this sector yielded $5.8 billion in U.S. exports to the world and accounted for 1.3 million U.S. jobs. Once it enters into force, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, will help to increase the competitiveness of these U.S. exports in important markets.
In 2014, the U.S. fish and fish products sector generated $909 million in exports to new TPP markets which include Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, New Zealand and Vietnam. The United States does not have preferential market access in these countries and, consequently, faces tariffs as high as 35 percent which result in an estimated $52 million in import duties levied on U.S. fish and fish products each year.
The United States is the sole supplier of Alaskan Pollock to Japan, averaging $248 million in exports annually. Presently, an estimated $10.4 million in duties are levied on these exports due to the current 4.2 percent tariff. Under its previous trade agreements, Japan has excluded Pollock from tariff elimination; however, under the TPP, the 4.2 percent tariff will be eliminated immediately upon entry into force, thus benefitting U.S. fishermen by helping to make U.S. Pollock more competitive.
Implementing the TPP will break down barriers the U.S. fish and fish products sector currently faces. Tariffs on 100 percent of U.S. exports of fish and fish products to Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam will be eliminated immediately. Additionally, Japan will immediately eliminate tariffs on 93 percent of U.S. exports of fish and fish products with the remaining seven percent eliminated within the next 11 years.
Bringing TPP into force is an important step forward to increase the competitiveness of U.S. exports of fish and fish products in new TPP markets. TPP commitments to promote sustainable fisheries management, eliminate some of the most harmful fisheries subsidies, and combat illegal fishing are groundbreaking and can make a significant contribution to global efforts to conserve fisheries resources while ensuring a level playing field for legitimate fishing operations and trade.
The International Trade Administration’s Industry & Analysis team has developed several resources to help business owners and employees in this booming sector. One, the FTA Tariff Tool, is designed to help U.S. companies—large and small—take advantage of export opportunities with U.S. FTA partners, including TPP partners. The “What’s My Tariff” search empowers the user to perform instant and at-a-glance searches for tariff treatment for all goods under certain U.S. FTAs.
For more detailed information on the fish and fish products sector, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please download the free sector report.