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An unexpected casualty in Washington state from Trump trade war with China

Geoducks are popular both in Washington and China. (Eugene Kim, Flickr Creative Commons)

Not only are international trade wars hurting the stock market Tuesday — they have Washington state’s lucrative geoduck trade underwater too.

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China is the number one market for Washington’s geoducks, responsible for roughly 90 percent of the state’s export of the distinct, large clams, totaling upwards of 11 million pounds.

According to Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the ongoing U.S. trade war with China has geoduck prices down to around $7 a pound, a $4 decrease.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources oversees the harvest of wild geoducks, which generate around $20 million dollars a year for the state. That money goes toward regulatory enforcement and Puget Sound restoration.

In total, there are an estimated 647 million pounds of geoducks in Puget Sound tidelands, making it the world’s richest fishery for the edible saltwater clam.

Before comments Tuesday from President Trump threatening to continue the trade war well into 2020, Franz expected a deal would to reached in the next few months. That looks less likely now, although she also hopes that continued public awareness can help inspire a solution down the road.

Trump tariffs could impact $1 billion in Washington agriculture

“Our goal is to continue to raise our voice and have the public raise their voice too, so we can end this trade war that has had significant impact for Washington state,” said Franz.

Geoducks haven’t been the only Washington export affected by this, with tariffs hitting Central Washington’s wine industry, newspaper printing across the state, agriculture like cherries, wheat, and apples, and even Sound Transit ORCA cards. Washington’s agricultural industry alone could see a $1 billion hit before it’s all said and done.

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