Trade wars and tariffs dominated much of the business news last year. US tacked fees on imports including Chinese steel, and countries retaliated with fees on products from the US, including Maine lobster. Recently our CEO Kathie Leonard was invited on the Maine Public radio program Maine Calling to sort out the winners from the losers, and discuss how tariffs have affected Maine’s economy.
Kathie joined host Jennifer Rooks and guests Wade Merritt, President of the Maine International Trade Center, and Sheila Adams, VP of Sales and Marketing for Maine Coast, a worldwide distributor of North American lobster.
For Maine Coast, the tariffs imposed by China on lobster had an immediate impact – close to 15% of its business “vanished overnight,” said Adams.
For Auburn Manufacturing, the story is more complex. Well before the current trade wars, AMI’s market in heat-resistant textiles was targeted by China, which flooded the market with low-cost fabrics. AMI successfully proved that the Chinese government was subsidizing Chinese companies to enable them to sell their product in the US at below production cost; this anti-dumping case resulted in duties between 200 and 300% charged on silica fabrics imported from China.
While AMI’s Leonard says she does not support trade wars, “the 10% tariff [imposed by President Trump on China] is a pittance; I don’t think it changed the market at all,” said Leonard. “If it went up to 25%, maybe it would make an impact.”
In the program, Leonard discussed other market concerns, including the impact of the renegotiated NAFTA deal, the challenges of operating in an uncertain market, and outcomes of potential deals with the UK and Japan.
Listen to the full episode of Maine Calling.