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February 27, 2019

Maine Delegation Calls on USTR to Prioritize Lobster in Trade Discussions with China

Washington, D.C. – In a continuation of the Maine Delegation’s concerted efforts to remove the unfair and harmful tariff on U.S. lobster exports to China, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jared Golden (D-ME) wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, calling on him to make the lobster industry a priority in the ongoing trade negotiations with the Chinese government.

“[T]he U.S. lobster industry continues to be harmed by the escalating tariffs between the [U.S. and China].  We write to urge you to ensure that any final agreement involves eliminating the tariff on U.S. lobster exports to China,” Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden wrote.  “Maine’s lobster industry is the lifeblood of countless coastal communities, supporting the livelihoods of 4,500 state licensed lobstermen and more than 10,000 additional Mainers who work directly within the industry.  These owner-operated small businesses help to preserve precious working waterfronts and have an economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion each year.”

“We cannot allow the future viability of this critical industry to be threatened by prolonged and unpredictable trade negotiations with China,” the Maine Delegation continued.  “We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working with you towards an expeditious resolution.”

In their letter, the Maine Delegation noted the severe toll on the Maine lobster industry since China levied a 25 percent tariff in July 2018.  Before the tariff, China was the second-largest importer of U.S. lobster, purchasing $128.5 million in product in 2017.  During the first month under the new tariffs, however, live lobster exports to China dropped by 64 percent.  One lobster dealer in Maine has seen a 90 percent decrease in its exports to China. 

In June 2018, the Maine delegation hosted a meeting between Deputy United States Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and members of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association to discuss the impact of federal trade policies on the state’s lobster industry.

Click HERE to read the full letter.

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