When I visited China last year as a member of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce delegation, I was astonished by the level of interest expressed by our hosts in Atlantic Canada’s seafood industry. Their interest was both gastronomic and economic.
So I was both surprised and pleased to learn that, beginning January 1, 2017 the tariff cuts announced by China’s ministry of commerce will benefit about a quarter of Canada’s seafood exports to China. Those exports to China were valued at $634 million as of October 2016.
Crab, frozen halibut, and albacore are among the export products most impacted and tariffs on these products will be reduced on average from 11% to 5%. The tariff on northern shrimp is also being reduced from 5% to 2%. Great news!
As many of you know, Nova Scotia exports more seafood than any other province and, as of October 2016, we had already exported $218 million worth to China, putting us on track for another record year.
Said Krista Higdon, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture: “We’ve seen significant annual export growth since putting an emphasis on marketing to Asia. China is looking for high-quality products and Nova Scotia is looking forward to continuing to provide them.”
The growing Chinese appetite for Nova Scotia seafood is being felt across the province, stimulating direct investment in processing facilities to a new $5 million cargo pad at Stanfield International Airport designed to accommodate cargo planes flying lobster by the tonne out of Halifax.
And the news gets better. Seafood companies have their eye on potentially more important tariff cuts in another part of the world: Europe. The proposed EU-Canada free trade agreement would permanently eliminate almost all tariffs on seafood going into Europe – which for us here in Nova Scotia remains a bigger market even than China.
Upon ratification, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) would immediately eliminate tariffs on the following:
- Live lobster, which now sits at 8%.
- Live and frozen scallops, also 8%.
- Frozen shrimp, currently 12%.
- Salt cod, now 13%.
- Frozen and fresh crab, now 7.5%.
Under CETA, all seafood tariffs would be phased out in seven years. This comes on top of the fabulous news, which I reported on recently, concerning the bumper lobster catch in Nova Scotia in 2016, setting a ten-year record.
Fishermen in the two lobster fishing areas that make up southwest Nova Scotia – from Halifax down the South Shore to Digby Neck – landed a whopping 75 million pounds of lobster this season.
As we know, for many of the rural communities in southwest Nova Scotia lobster is the life-blood and driver of the local economy. The news from China is going to give us all another seafood industry related boost.
Frankly, everyone at the Ritcey Team is thrilled by the news about an invigorated Nova Scotia seafood industry. You should be too!