How trade war with China will affect local fishermen and consumers

How trade war with China will affect local fishermen and consumers

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The ongoing tensions between the United States and China have resulted in tariffs by the U.S. on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, including seafood products. While the tariffs have been met with approval by many local fisherman and farmers, experts warn the trade war could cause more harm than good.

Peter Gerica is a long-time fisherman, who, like many local seafood farmers supports the added tariffs.

"Any tariffs you put on whether it be China, Mexico, whoever, I mean is a step in the right direction because it puts you in an equal playing field," Gerica said.

The tariffs started at 10 percent last month and are expected to increase to 25 percent by January. Doug Nelson, an economics professor at Tulane University, says we can expect Chinese retaliation to increase the price of goods in the U.S., which will hurt consumers.

“Raising the price of shrimp will be good for shrimp fishermen, but of course, bad for shrimp consumers. So the price to you of a shrimp poboy is going to go up,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson, not only are these tariffs bad for consumers, but also for most American businesses -- aside from industries like steel and aluminum.

“Talk to a farmer. Farmers are getting hammered. The Chinese retaliated by putting tariffs on soy, on corn,” Nelson said.

While some fear the trade war will increase the risk of a recession, the retaliation from China affects only about 8 percent of U.S. exports, according to Nelson.

"We're talking about a significant, but not something that's going to cause us to tip into a recession or a depression," Nelson said.

Nelson said he thinks there’s a better alternative.

"If you really were worried about shrimp producers, or steel workers, or whatever, what you should do is find some way of subsidizing them. Then, you only pay the cost of the subsidy. You don't have consumers being distorted in their choices," Nelson said.

However, fishermen like Gerica say they feel they’re finally being heard.

“I think that government in general right now is working in the right direction,” said Gerica. “The restaurants and the wholesales, the grocers ought to have some kind of thing saying proud to serve american, you know? As long as it’s U.S. product.”

One thing both Nelson and Gerica can agree on is that it’s important to note that the U.S. also has tariffs on imports from other countries.

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