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September 30 2019

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18 The Journal of Commerce | September 30 2019 www.joc.com Cool Cargoes Special Report OVER THE PAST year and a half, the United States and China have engaged in a trade war that has un- leashed volley after volley of recip- rocal import tariffs from the world's two largest economies, driving up duties on a wide range of items, including agricultural goods. For established US importers and exporters of perishable foods and other refrigerated (reefer) cargoes, fluctuations in trade policy between the US and foreign buyers and sellers have long necessitated a diversified and nimble supply chain strategy. Nevertheless, the current trade war is creating unique challenges, according to a senior supply chain executive from a major US-based food company. The firm trades and sources products around the world, as well as exporting food from the US and Canada to China. In June, China banned meat imports from Canada, charging that a feed additive (ractopamine) was detected in Canadian pork shipments and veterinary certificates for the livestock were fraudulent. Guy Saint- Jacques, Canada's former ambassador to China, said Beijing was essentially using phytosanitary concerns as an excuse to block exports. According to the food company executive, non-tariff barriers such as animal health/disease are the leading challenge to accessing foreign markets, followed closely by geopolitical issues. Russia, for example, has blocked US poultry im- ports for the past decade over similar phytosanitary issues. "What do you do? You shift, and we've been doing this for a long time. The name of the game for us is diversification," the executive told The Journal of Commerce. Unlike prior trade spats, which tended to flare up and then dissipate, returning the market to "normal" operating conditions, the current tensions between the United States and China stand out because there's been a steady escalation over the past 18-plus months, with no end in sight. "The uncertainty of markets opening and closing is definitely an issue for us," the executive ex- plained, adding that production in the US and Canada has been severely disrupted. And with so much of the firm's product on the water at any Trade uncertainty impacting US reefer shippers By Lara L. Sowinski A perishable market

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