Maine Delegation Emphasizes Need to Hold China Accountable on American Lobster Commitment

Last week’s U.S.-China trade deal does not specify the amount of China’s investment for industry; U.S. lobster exports to China have dropped dramatically as result of ongoing trade war

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) are sending a letter today pressing U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer for specific information regarding China’s commitment to purchase lobster in the recently announced U.S./China trade deal. In the letter, the Maine Delegation urges the USTR to release China’s financial commitment to American lobster, citing China’s history of not fulfilling trade agreements and calling for transparency to ensure it lives up to this agreement.

 

“We were pleased that the President’s January 15 Economic and Trade Agreement included seafood purchases by China, and appreciate your efforts to explicitly list lobster as a product in that category,” wrote the Maine Delegation. “As you and your team have come to recognize through our correspondence over the last two years, the Maine lobster industry is absolutely integral to the economy of our state. To promote Chinese accountability and to aid in the enforcement of this provision, we write to urge you to make public additional details on China’s lobster purchase commitment, including the specific dollar value of China’s commitment.”


The Maine Delegation has repeatedly stood with the lobster industry, which currently faces a number of serious threats including the ongoing trade war with China and potential federal regulations associated with the ongoing North Atlantic right whale take reduction effort. In November, Collins, King, and Pingree urged the USTR to pursue a trade deal with the European Union that would prioritize lobster; in a February letter, the Delegation asked the USTR to prioritize lobster in negotiations, noting that live lobster exports to China dropped by 64% in the first month after the retaliatory tariffs were imposed. The Maine Delegation has also pressed for the Administration to offer funding to help the lobster industry access new markets, and to provide tariff relief to members of the lobster industry affected by the ongoing trade war with China – much as American farmers received government support to mitigate negative effects of the China trade war.

 

The full letter can read below or downloaded HERE.

 

+++

 

January 23, 2020

 

Hon. Robert Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

600 Seventeenth Street, NW, Room 215

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

 

We were pleased that the President’s January 15 Economic and Trade Agreement included seafood purchases by China, and appreciate your efforts to explicitly list lobster as a product in that category. As you and your team have come to recognize through our correspondence over the last two years, the Maine lobster industry is absolutely integral to the economy of our state. To promote Chinese accountability and to aid in the enforcement of this provision, we write to urge you to make public additional details on China’s lobster purchase commitment, including the specific dollar value of China’s commitment.

 

As you well know, China has a history of not upholding its trade agreements, and China has repeatedly broken its commitments under bilateral and multi-lateral agreements that it concluded as it acceded to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”). Indeed, these broken promises comprise the very basis upon which the President has rested his Chinese trade policy. 

 

Given China’s poor history of compliance with its trade obligations, the United States must hold China accountable to the purchase commitments it made under the January 15 Agreement. Knowing the exact dollar value of lobster that China has agreed to purchase will enable independent verification as to whether China either has met or has yet again shirked its trade commitments to the United States.

 

Transparency and accountability are paramount concerns and we look forward to working with you to hold China accountable for the purchase commitments under the January 15 Economic and Trade Agreement.