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Higher US Duties Considered For “Smoked” Tuna

US imports of frozen tuna treated with carbon monoxide (CO) could face a big tariff rise from zero percent to 12.5 percent. Classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) since 2000, the industry is now being asked to provide evidence that the treated product reaches this standard.


The carbon monoxide treatment of “smoking” yellowfin tuna is used to preserve the color of the fish. Currently, yellowfin imports, whether treated or untreated are classified under the 0304 US tariff classification. This means that the product is considered as raw fish or fillets, and no duty is charged.

In August this year, the tuna and seafood industry was given reason to celebrate after dodging a possible tariff hike that could have seen the rise to 12.5 percent on “smoked’ tuna imported to the United States. A government ruling confirmed that the product would continue to carry no tax on its imports.

Now, however, this former decision could be reversed, while both the FDA and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is considering to change the classification of frozen tuna treated with CO to a ‘prepared or preserved item’. This would include the adoption of the higher duty tariff. This change could have a definite impact on many frozen fish importers, but the go-ahead would bring in millions of dollars to the US treasury.

The decision that could have huge impact on the US tuna importing industry is now being considered at a national level.