Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205
05/17/2021 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES
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SJR 16-END RUSSIA EMBARGO ON U.S. SEAFOOD [Contains discussion of SJR 17.] 3:35:20 PM CHAIR REVAK announced the consideration of SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 16 Calling on President Biden to immediately seek and secure an end to the embargo imposed by Russia on seafood imports from abroad so that Alaska seafood producers' access to the Russian domestic seafood market is fully restored. 3:35:36 PM SENATOR GARY STEVENS, speaking as chair of the Senate Special Committee on World Trade that sponsored SJR 16, stated that Alaska's fisheries are a centerpiece of the state's economy and anything that increases the value of Alaska seafood improves the health of the state's economy. He reminded the committee that in August 2014, Russia banned a broad range of food products from the European Union (EU), the United States, Canada, Australia, and Norway in retaliation to the Western sanctions to the Ukraine crisis. The ban includes nearly all seafood products from Alaska which makes it very difficult for Alaska seafood processors to stay competitive in the world market. They need help from the federal government. SJR 16 reaches out and urges the federal government to restore Alaska's seafood industry for fair market access to Russia. 3:37:11 PM CHAIR REVAK announced invited testimony. 3:37:25 PM STEPHANIE MADSEN, Executive Director, At-Sea Processors Association (APA), Juneau, Alaska, stated that since most of the committee members attended the earlier detailed informational session, she would save time by speaking to both SJR 16 and SJR 17. She thanked the committee for its leadership on these critical issues. She said seafood industry workers do not typically discuss international trade rules on the dock, but it is a critically important variable for these workers and seafood processors. She related that the majority of seafood produced in Alaska is destined for export to markets in Japan, China, the EU, and the United Kingdom, and if the U.S. were to become uncompetitive in these markets, Alaska seafood markets would lose value. This would translate to lower revenue, fewer jobs, and lower wages and crew shares. She pointed out that Alaska often has been on the losing end in recent years due to developments in international trade policy, and this has always resulted in a direct loss for Alaska's seafood industry. MS. MADSEN cited Russia as an example. As Russian seafood exports to the U.S. have boomed since 2014, this lucrative market has been almost entirely closed to U.S. seafood exporters and thus has imposed ongoing costs on the Alaska seafood economy. She thanked the committee for focusing SJR 16 on Russia's outrageous embargo in American seafood. Hopefully it will help to end the embargo and restore fair access to Russia for Alaska/American products, she said. MS. MADSEN turned her attention to SJR 17, stating that China's July 2018 retaliatory tariffs on U.S. seafood products have made it nearly impossible for Alaska's seafood industry to compete. She reported that the unprecedented growth wave of the Alaska pollock industry in China has been devastated under the weight of the tariffs. The value of these exports to China has fallen 55 percent since 2017. Despite the Phase I Trade Agreement, there does not seem to be an end in sight. She noted the trade press today confirmed that China has not met its seafood purchase commitments. MS. MADSEN said SJR 17 requests a level playing field, so consumers globally have the option to buy Alaska's premium seafood products. If the terms are fair, the industry will thrive. She relayed the At-Sea Processors Association's fervent hope that SJR 16 and SJR 17 will catalyze a renewed fairness in seafood trade. If this is successful, she said Alaska seafood workers and the broader Alaska economy will benefit. SENATOR STEVENS emphasized that the industry is not asking for an unfair advantage; it is simply asking for a level playing field. 3:42:01 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI asked if the U.S. trade representative or the Biden administration were working on these issues currently. 3:42:27 PM MATT TINNING, Director of Sustainability and Public Affairs, At- Sea Processors Association (APA), Washington, D.C., answered it is early days in the Biden administration's trade agenda, but APA has been encouraged that the new U.S. trade representative (USTR), Katherine Tai, is committed to enforce the Phase I deal and review trade relations with China. He offered his perspective that SJR 16 and SJR 17 were coming at a critical time to encourage the administration to move in the right direction to help Alaska's seafood industry. 3:43:37 PM CHAIR REVAK opened public testimony on SJR 16. 3:44:01 PM CHRIS BARROWS, President, Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA), Seattle, Washington, stated support of SJR 16 and SJR 17, calling attention to the unfair trade practices in Russia and China that prevent Alaska seafood from competing on a level playing field. MR. BARROWS related that PSPA, which was founded in 1914, is comprised of eight major seafood processing companies that operate 25 facilities in 15 Alaskan coastal communities. These companies purchase Alaska seafood from harvesters, process it into various products, and distribute it to markets in the U.S. and worldwide. MR. BARROWS emphasized the critical importance of highlighting that seafood is an important economic engine for the state. The industry accounts for half of Alaskan exports, but the long- standing and unfair trade conditions have made it increasingly difficult to maintain and expand value for Alaska seafood products. Federal trade policies and negotiations have consistently failed to safeguard seafood producer interests, while seafood imports overwhelmingly enter the U.S. duty free. He said the biological success and importance of Alaska fisheries has been a U.S. and Alaskan priority, but it is equally important for the fisheries to be economically successful. A robust U.S. seafood export economy directly shapes the long-term health of Alaska's seafood processing sector, including the ability to maintain and replace aging infrastructure and obtain ongoing capital investment. It supports Alaska fishermen, fishing communities, and related economies that support seafood production. MR. BARROWS thanked the committee for its support of SJR 16 and SJR 17 to correct the long-standing injustices currently embedded in the U.S. trade frameworks. 3:44:09 PM SENATOR VON IMHOF joined the committee meeting. 3:46:51 PM CHAIR REVAK discerned there was no one else who wished to testify and closed public testimony on SJR 16. Finding no committee comments or questions, he solicited a motion. 3:47:17 PM SENATOR MICCICHE moved to report SJR 16, work order 32-LS0912\A, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 3:47:32 PM CHAIR REVAK announced that without objection, SJR 16 moved from the Senate Resources Standing Committee. SJR 17-INCREASE SEAFOOD EXPORTS [Contains discussion of SJR 16.] 3:49:22 PM SENATOR REVAK reconvened the meeting and announced the consideration of SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17 Requesting the United States Trade Representative to bring a renewed focus on the plight of producers of seafood in the state and the United States and to compel China to comply with its commitment to increase its imports of seafood products from the United States. 3:49:36 PM SENATOR GARY STEVENS, speaking as chair of the Senate Special Committee on World Trade that sponsored SJR 17, stated this resolution has to do with retaliatory Chinese tariffs on U.S. seafood products. According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), two-thirds of the seafood harvested in the U.S. has traditionally come from Alaskan waters. Unfortunately, market demand for Alaska seafood in China has been substantially damaged since 2018 when China imposed tariffs on U.S. seafood products. For example, the tariff on Alaska pollock is 500 percent higher than the same pollock that is called Russian Alaska pollock. SJR 17 seeks to restore focus on negotiations with China, ease the tariff war, and right the international market in favor of Alaska seafood products 3:50:52 PM SENATOR MICCICHE advised that SJR 17 and SJR 16 were the result of a World Trade Committee meeting where several hours were devoted to discussing the details of these issues. CHAIR REVAK added it was a joint meeting with the Senate Resources Committee, so the members are familiar with the issues. 3:51:24 PM CHAIR REVAK opened public testimony on SJR 17; finding none, he closed public testimony. SENATOR STEVENS thanked the committee for hearing the resolutions and pointed out that testimony on the previous resolution addressed both SJR 16 and SJR 17. CHAIR REVAK found no further questions or comments and solicited a motion. 3:52:13 PM SENATOR MICCICHE moved to report SJR 17, work order 32-LS0913\A, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 3:52:29 PM CHAIR REVAK announced that without objection SJR 17 moved from the Senate Resources Standing Committee.