When I’m wrong, I’m wrong: Wahlburgers broke ground

Sept. 25, 2019 | Michael G. Dobbs

So sometimes, the impact of national events doesn’t necessarily trickle down to the average person.

In the Commonwealth the trade war with China is being felt. Welcome to the new world order or at least one of them.

State House News reporter Matt Murphy wrote this week, “Semi-conductors, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, furniture and toys remain the state’s largest exports to China, which fell by $600 million over the first six months of 2019. Sales of lobsters to China between January and July fell from $26.3 million in 2018 to $9.9 million this year, a 62 percent decline.”

A decline in lobster sales may seem minor to some folks, but it really isn’t.

What concerns me is there will be no trickle down effect but instead a flood of cancelled orders and lost jobs – two conditions that may take years to improve.

Murphy noted in his story, “When Canada negotiated a new trade agreement with Europe several years ago, Vince Mortillaro, the owner of Mortillaro Lobster in Gloucester, made a business decision.

“Mark Sullivan, the state’s international trade chief, said Tuesday that lobster sales from the Bay State to China were down 62 percent this year, amid rising China-U.S. tariffs.

“No longer able to compete on price in Europe with the non-taxed Canadian lobster, he turned to the Asian market – specifically China.

“‘We went in hard and we grew our business drastically, but then they implemented the tariffs. It’s a pretty hard pill to swallow,’ he told legislators Tuesday.

“Mortillaro now expects to lose 30 percent of his lobster sales this year, turning a $40 million wholesale lobster company, which he said has been responsible for buying one-third of all lobster landed in the port of Gloucester, into a significantly smaller operation.

“Retaliatory tariffs placed by China on U.S. seafood exports as part of an ongoing trade war between the two countries is taking a hard toll on the Massachusetts lobster industry, experts and practitioners explained on Tuesday. The impact is not only being felt by lobstermen and women, but by wholesalers, processing plants and even steel companies that make lobster traps.”

Massachusetts, as a whole, seems to be for the time being, doing pretty well economically as the most recent jobs report indicates a low rate of unemployment. The question, though, is how an on-going trade war is going to affect a state such as Massachusetts. The big agricultural states are suffering because of the tariffs on exports and I can’t help but wonder if we are going to see a recession spurred by the tariffs.

It’s not news to most but Massachusetts competes internationally as the rest of the businesses in this country do. Globalization of markets is the way of world.

Because tariffs are imposed by the federal government the way states can react to support businesses is limited.

While it is clear there has to be adjustments in international trade that level the playing field, it’s clear there are very real victims in this process and they may include people we know.


Hey when I’m wrong, I’m wrong

Hey, I’m not Nostradamus. I’m not Kreskin. I’m not even Criswell (look the three of them up). I can’t see the future, but every now and then I think I have enough knowledge about something to make a prediction.

That’s always dangerous, but as people who know me, I’m a thrill seeker.

I’ve told people that I couldn’t believe the lawyers from MGM and Wahlburgers needed more than a year to figure out a deal and I believed the burger chain would not be coming to Springfield.

Of course, I was proven wrong because the groundbreaking was last week and clearly they are coming. The new restaurant should be open in 2020 and will create at least 100 jobs.

At least when I’m wrong, I’m willing to admit it

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