WASHINGTON, D.C. — Maine’s two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives announced the United States and the European Union have reached an agreement to eliminate tariffs on live and frozen American lobster, which will help, according to a news release, to substantially boost sales of Maine lobster to European markets.
The agreement comes after years of retaliatory tariffs in both the EU and China have imposed severe economic challenges for Maine’s lobster industry, and follows extensive pressure from the Maine Congressional Delegation, a news release stated.
Several years ago, the European Union was a top destination for American lobster, accounting for approximately 15 to 20 percent of annual lobster exports, per a news release.
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 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,” a news release stated.
Under the deal reached Friday, there will now be a 0% tariff on live and frozen lobsters from the U.S., retroactive to August 1.
The agreement is expected to last for five years, with the European Union taking steps to make it permanent.
“As they face the challenges of harmful retaliatory Chinese tariffs, the pandemic’s economic costs, and misguided federal regulations, there is no question that today’s agreement provides a welcome bit of good news for Maine’s lobster industry,” said Senator Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jarden Golden, in a joint statement. “The removal of these tariffs will give Maine’s lobstermen, dealers, and processors a level playing field with their Canadian competitors, and restore a key market that brings millions of dollars of economic activity into our state. There’s much more work to be done to protect Maine’s lobster industry and the coastal communities that rely on it, but this is a solid development. All we want is a fair fight, without the political hurdles – because there’s no fishery in the world that can match the quality of our catch or the dedication of Maine people.”
“This is welcome news for the hardworking men and women in Maine’s lobster industry who are facing severe financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing trade war that has reduced exports. Placing U.S. lobster on a level playing field with Canadian lobster is a significant victory that will reopen this lucrative market to Maine lobstermen and women,” said Senator Susan Collins, in a statement. “I will continue to fight on behalf of our state’s lobstermen and women as well as the small businesses that rely on this industry by addressing the numerous challenges the industry faces.”