Cooking up Chinese competition

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “seafood hub” as: “A shipping and economic center specializing in seafood, the catch of a region close to the sea and trading ports along the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”

The area of China that is now readying its fishing fleets and offshore wind farms to occupy—not to mention the maritime security infrastructure—is increasing rapidly. One of the interesting competitive dynamic is China overtaking the United States as the world’s largest exporter of seafood, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2017, China was the leading exporter of seafood by volume with 34 percent followed by the United States with 19 percent.

And according to the newly released U.S. Census of Agricultural Production for 2018, China’s agricultural exports increased to $192.1 billion from $164.3 billion. The United States agricultural exports decreased in 2018 with $163.9 billion from $169.1 billion.

What will this mean to the United States, China’s other major trading partners and the global economy as a whole?

First, the answer is simple. The US will not be able to keep pace with China’s ascent, and American agricultural exporters will lose market share to China.

Second, there will be a corresponding reduction in support—funds and incentives—that have made U.S. farms a competitive offering. This is because as the United States moves to a more import-based, services-focused export economy, this innovation in services will fall off in a way that undermines our future competitiveness. We need to pursue policies that encourage more trade of services in goods and services.

Third, if we do not reorganize our agricultural export apparatus to compete more effectively, our country will not be able to compete effectively with China in the coming years, which will create havoc throughout the U.S. economy and politics.

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We will continue to supply Beijing’s Politburo with natural commodities. But if our global trading partners don’t react, they will lose their access to China’s enormous markets and they will lose our vote when it comes to the reelection of the Chinese Communist Party.

I, for one, am proud of China for its rising status in the world, but I cannot be naïve. It will not be easy to keep up with China’s innovation and technological development.

I doubt our Congress is going to pry the bottom out of the Chinese fishing fleets or prevent their offshore wind farms from encroaching on the American coast. But as Americans, we can determine what our government does to help companies compete and grow while developing innovative manufacturing processes, making high-quality industrial products, and exporting our goods into international markets.

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