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

The shores will not rock in 2019

Atomique Productions announce Rock the Shores festival will not return in 2019, future is uncertain

Tsawout First Nation members opposed to logging on reserve land

Video footage taken from a plane shows an extensive logging operation that… Continue reading

Family still searching for missing Langford man two weeks after disappearance

Family hopeful he is alive, offering $10,000 reward

Victoria police concerned about missing man’s well-being

Delmer was reported missing on March 19

Fracking, economy, climate at centre of Green Party town hall in Metchosin

Green Party leader Elizabeth May and local candidate David Merner take questions from community

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

Most Read