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April 16, 2018 |
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Trade Tensions Worry United Grain

Company is already seeing effects of U.S.-China tariff talk

Trade Tensions Worry United Grain
Photo: United Grain Corp.

The latest trade dispute between the United States and China has created even more uncertainty in a network of local companies says a report at The Columbian.

China this month responded to the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs by stamping a 25% duty on nearly 130 U.S. products, ranging from fruits and nuts to cars and trucks.

Among those products are soybeans — a crop mainly grown in inland states, but with a supply chain woven through the Pacific Northwest. If enacted, the tariffs would hit farmers hard, but also transporters and processors.

United Grain Corp., headquartered in Vancouver, WA, operates the largest grain elevator on the West Coast at the Port of Vancouver and said it is already seeing effects of tariffs talk. Unlike its wheat, United Grain exports its soybeans almost exclusively to China.

“Tariffs on soybeans almost certainly will result in the loss of volume to be executed through our elevator,” said Gary Williams, vice president of marketing and business development.

He added that the loss ripples throughout the region.

“This volume can’t be easily regained, which results in less revenue for the Port of Vancouver, and less hours worked for labor, inspection personnel, ship assistance and other related functions that create earnings for families in Clark County,” he said.

United Grain Corp. is a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., but that does not shelter the local operations from the impacts of tariffs, Williams said.

He added that it is too early to tell how this would impact its 100 local employees. It remains to be seen whether the tariffs will be enacted and, if so, how long the tariffs would last.

“It all depends on the duration,” Williams said. “If an employee walked up and said, ‘Gosh, are my hours going to get cut?’ it is way too early to make that assumption today.”

Read the full article here.

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