European Union trade victory for Maine lobster clears final hurdle

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 6:30pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, in a news release, welcomed the finalization of the agreement to eliminate tariffs on live and frozen American lobster, which will help to substantially boost sales of Maine lobster to European markets.

The deal was solidified following President Trump signing a proclamation.

Senator Collins strongly advocated for this agreement and raised the concerns of Maine’s lobster industry directly to the White House and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Several years ago, the European Union was a top destination for American lobster, accounting for approximately 15 to 20 percent of annual lobster exports, the release noted.

In 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was implemented between Canada and the European Union, reducing tariffs to zero on live Canadian lobsters and eliminating tariffs over a period of several years on frozen and processed Canadian lobsters.

This, according to the release, put American lobster exporters at a serious disadvantage because, unlike Canadians, American exporters were facing tariffs of between 8 and 30 percent to sell into the European Union.

The agreement will reduce tariffs on live and frozen U.S. lobsters to 0%, retroactive to August 1st. The agreement is expected to last for five years, with the European Union taking steps to make it permanent.

“The finalization of this trade agreement, just in time for Christmas, is excellent news for Maine’s lobster industry, which has experienced a number of challenges in recent years ranging from the pandemic to the trade war,” said Senator Collins. “This agreement to reopen this lucrative market will once again place U.S. lobster on a level playing field with Canadian lobster. I will continue to work closely with Maine’s hardworking lobstermen and women, processors, and dealers to help ensure the needs of this vital fishery are addressed.”

“This is a step in the right direction for US lobster businesses,” said Annie Tselikis, Executive Director Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association. “We are grateful for the attention and support from Sen. Collins and the entire Maine delegation as they have played a critical role as a facilitator between the industry and the Office of the US Trade Representative.”