Alaska king and Dungeness crab, along with several other seafood products, have been exempted from import tariffs that are part of a years-long trade war between US President Donald Trump and China.

On Jan. 31, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) approved Alaska for exclusion from a 10 percent tariff placed on the products in 2018 as part of Trump's escalating trade with China that has only recently showed signs of ending.

While Alaska has seen some tariffs either reduced or eeliminated for some of its major products such as pollock that are processed in China and imported back into the United States, the state's seafood industry has lobbied hard for all products being removed from the tariff list, stating any additional tariffs substantially impact Alaska's ability to compete globally.

Companies that have lost significant amounts of money to the trade war over the past two years could gain some of that back, the USTR said in a statement released about the exclusions.

According to the Joseph Barloon, general counsel with the USTR, the exclusion is retroactive to September of 2018, when the agency imposed additional tariffs on imports from China valued at $200 billion (€180.9 billion).

The following Alaska products specifically received the exclusion:

  • Individually frozen fillets of flounder, including arrowtooth flounder
  • (Atheresthes stomias) and Kamchatka flounder (Atheresthes evermanni), each weighing 80 g or more but not exceeding 200 g
  • Slipper lobster meat (Ibicus ciliatus), frozen, raw, whether whole or in pieces, put up for sale in bags each with a net weight of not more than 2.27 kg
  • King crab meat, frozen in blocks each weighing at least 1 kg but not more than 1.2 kg, in airtight containers
  • Snow crab meat (C. opilio), frozen in blocks, in airtight containers each with net weight of not more than 1.2 kg
  • Dungeness crab meat, frozen in blocks, in airtight containers with net weight of not more than 1.2 kg
  • Crab meat (other than king crab, snow crab, Dungeness or swimming crabs), frozen in blocks, in airtight containers with net weight of not more than 1.5 kg
  • Alaskan sole (yellowfin, rock or flathead), frozen in blocks, in cases with net weight of more than 4.5 kg
  • Alaskan plaice, frozen in blocks, in cases each with net weight of more than 4.5 kg

In June of last year, the agency initiated an exclusion process for goods, asking importers and other parties for rationale for its request for exclusion, including purchase volumes of Chinese-origin products, whether or not a comparable source was available from the US or other countries outside of China and other details.

After nearly two years of an escalating trade war with China, Trump in January signed a “Phase One” trade deal to lower some tariffs and increase China's purchases of US agricultural products.