Maine wants US help to prevent lobster trade gap with Canada

Maine wants US help to prevent lobster trade gap with Canada

PORTLAND, Maine — As a trade deal between the European Union and Canada nears completion, politicians in Maine want the federal government to find a way to prevent the U.S. from landing in a major trade disadvantage over a valuable, and tasty, resource — lobsters.

The Canada-European Union deal would get rid of tariffs on Canadian lobster exports to the 28-nation bloc. That would give Canada a huge advantage over the United States in sending some coveted seafood products overseas.

EU nations imported more than $150 million in lobster from America last year, and took more than $190 million Canadian (US$143 million) from Canada. The combination of a strong U.S. dollar and tariffs would make it hard to compete with Canada, American lobster exporters said.

In Maine, where most of America’s lobster catch comes to shore, Gov. Paul LePage and all four members of the congressional delegation are putting pressure on the federal government to intervene. LePage, a Republican, has called for a meeting with Trump administration officials on the issue.

“I’m very concerned that Canada’s agreement with the European Union could hurt the lobster industry here in Maine by placing us at a competitive disadvantage,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat. “It’s important that President Trump’s administration understands how critical this situation is in its own trade negotiations with the European Union.”

Members of the Maine delegation said it remains to be seen how the government could get involved to level the playing field. The U.S. Department of Commerce, which handles issues related to seafood trade, did not respond to a request for comment.

But one solution could be by brokering a deal similar to the Canada-European Union pact, which has EU approval and is nearing finalization in the Parliament of Canada.

The agreement means EU nations would gradually eliminate tariffs over four years, a European Commission spokesman said. The pact is part of the larger EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The Canadian government has said tariffs for fish and seafood average 11 per cent, can be as high as 25 per cent, and the EU is the largest importer of seafood in the world.

The U.S. and EU have worked on a trade agreement that would eliminate tariff barriers, but the talks are on hold right now, the spokesman said.

The U.S.’s lack of an agreement shows the need to better negotiate with European trading partners, said Mike Tourkistas, chief executive officer of East Coast Seafood, of Topsfield, Massachusetts, which is a major exporter of lobsters to Europe.

“We should focus on getting on board, rather than trying to fight,” he said. “Up and down the New England coastline, the impact can be big.”

In Canada, members of the lobster industry said the best remedy is for the U.S. to forge its own deal with the EU. But in the meantime, they’re looking forward to a bump in business.

Canada’s agreement with Europe could potentially benefit the U.S. industry because a lot of its lobster catch gets sent to Canada for processing, said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

“Our live industry is so intermingled with your live industry,” he said. “This isn’t to put out our American partners. It’s just that our government has made it a priority.”

Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Details scarce as union confirms probe underway involving Victoria care homes

Island Health, VicPD offer no comment on report of investigation into alleged sexual assaults

Swimmer set for double crossing of Georgia Strait

Jill Yoneda’s Aug. 3 swim will benefit Canuck Place

Sport fishing ban protest organizers trolling for attention

Hook-less anglers hitting Sooke area waters July 29 to protest DFO’s summer fin-fish ban

From hot dog to not dog: stuffed toy prompts car break in

The stuffed dog had been in the backseat for 18 years without problems

Launch party for Vancouver Island’s new soccer team a success

More seating will be added to Westhills before the spring

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

Cigarette packs with graphic images, blunt warnings are effective: focus groups

Warnings considered effective flag ailments smoking can cause, like colorectal and stomach cancers

Canada’s title hopes quashed at Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

On the men’s side, Canada was eliminated in the round of 16 as they were shut out by Argentina 28-0

Astronaut drops in on Kraftwerk gig, plays duet from space

Alexander Gerst becomes an astronaut musician with live performance from International Space Station

Most Read