Although “gut-punched” by a U.S.-China trade war, most Maine lobster dealers would try to recapture the China market if ongoing trade talks prove successful.
“What happens if China tariffs disappear tomorrow? I think you see a bunch of lobster companies from the United States board planes and go to China to rebuild the relationships they had with their Chinese customers,” said Annie Tselikis, director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association. “Some may shift their practice and refocus their efforts, but … I think everybody is going to do as much as they possibly can to regain their business there.”
Chinese importers would welcome them back, too, happy to be rid of the high prices, seasonal shortages and logistical headaches of buying just Canadian lobster.
“Eventually, I think China and the U.S. should get along,” said Helen Gao, the head international buyer for Gfresh, China’s leading online seafood wholesaler. “We are the two biggest economies in the world. We should have a better trade relationship. … Right now there may be some pain, not just for U.S. suppliers, but for us, as well, because we only import seafood and U.S. is our biggest source region. We just have to hang in there.”
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