ELLSWORTH — Maine lobster headed for European plates got a welcome boost when a presidential proclamation last week finalized an agreement eliminating tariffs on live and frozen American lobster.
The deal is expected to substantially boost sales of Maine lobster to European markets.
“This is a step in the right direction for U.S. lobster businesses,” said Annie Tselikis, executive director of the 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 U.S. Trade Representative.”
Several years ago, the European Union was a top destination for American lobster, accounting for approximately 15 to 20 percent of annual lobster exports. 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.
The agreement will reduce tariffs on live and frozen U.S. lobsters to zero percent, retroactive to Aug. 1. The agreement is expected to last for five years, with the European Union taking steps to make it permanent.
“This agreement to reopen this lucrative market will once again place U.S. lobster on a level playing field with Canadian lobster,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “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.”
In November 2019, Sens. Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prioritize a trade deal with the European Union that would reduce or eliminate E.U. tariffs on Maine lobster.