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International Shipping
New England lobsterman fears Canada in Sino-US trade war
Date:2018-07-04 Readers:
CANADA is poised to replace the US when it comes to supplying lobster-hungry China if Sino-American trade war breaks out.

"All hell is going to break loose as far as the price," said New England lobsterman Billy Mahoney, adding that China will then turn to Canada for lobster.

The US industry, like other sectors are feeling the pinch in even advance of a threatened trade war, reports Bloomberg.

Mr Mahoney, who sells his catch to a Massachusetts dealer, is already getting 50 cents less per pound in anticipation of tariffs.

Mr Mahoney, at 70, says he is close to retirement, but he has a brother in the business as well as four cousins in the field.

Maine and Massachusetts together landed almost US$700 million worth of lobster last year, 94 per cent of the national total. At the same time, exports from Maine to China increased more than 30 per cent, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The traps used are also caught in the tariff crossfire. Steel manufacturer Riverdale Mills Corp in Northbridge, Massachusetts, supplies 85 per cent of the North American market for wire-mesh lobster traps.

Riverdale Mills CEO Jim Knott said the price of the steel he uses, some of it from Canada, has doubled since the beginning of the year in anticipation of President Trump's 25 per cent steel levies on Canada and Europe.

"It puts handcuffs on us because we are unable to buy raw materials at a competitive price," he said during an interview at his factory near Boston.

So far, Mr Knott has absorbed the added costs, but says he may have to raise his prices by 15 per cent, and stocking up on American-made steel is not a solution. "Many mills are booked out through October," he said.
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