U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to impose a tariff on Chinese crawfish and shrimp. Kennedy says the tariffs would provide a much needed boost to the Louisiana seafood industry.
“Including crawfish and shrimp would provide a much-needed economic boost to the Louisiana seafood industry, which supplies the finest seafood in the world,” Kennedy wrote in a letter Tuesday (April 17) to the White House. “For years, Chinese companies have dumped inferior, sometimes fraudulent, seafood products into the American marketplace, and Louisiana industries have suffered as a result.”
The volume of Chinese crawfish imported to the U.S. has held fairly steady in recent years, according to data from the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. The price, however, is much higher than it was in 2005.
Since Trump’s March 22 executive order to institute tariffs on as much as $60 billion in Chinese imports, mostly aeronautics, modern rail, new-energy vehicles and high-technology products, Republicans from agricultural states have been anxious. They want to show loyalty to the GOP president but also to defend farm constituencies who would be hurt if China retaliates with tariffs on U.S. soybean, corn and tobacco exports.
Kennedy, however, has found a new angle that would both sting China and help his state. “The commercial seafood industry has a $2.4 billion annual impact on Louisiana’s economy, but access to the Chinese market has been restricted by policies that discourage foreign competition,” he wrote to Trump.
“If your administration must evaluate additional products subject to subsequent tariffs, I respectfully ask that you give full consideration to the inclusion of Chinese crawfish and shrimp. Louisianians take great pride in their seafood, and this measure would reward hard-working Louisiana shrimpers, crawfish farmers and consumers.”
Kennedy’s reaction to the tariffs is in stark contrast to the reaction of other GOP lawmakers. They have been largely critical of them both for ideological and district reasons.
The issue of tariffs has not been polled in Louisiana, but it’s probably a safe bet that they are supported by most Louisianians. Trump continues to enjoy a high job approval rating and it’s no reason to suggest that this policy is unpopular.
No matter what Kennedy’s statewide political ambitions are, there is nothing to be lost by supporting Louisiana seafood. This is a winning issue for Kennedy.