Senator Collins Announces Significant Trade Victory for Maine Lobster

The agreement eliminates a European Union tariff that put Maine lobster exporters at a serious disadvantage

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced today that the United States and the European Union have reached an agreement to eliminate tariffs on live and frozen American lobster, which will help to substantially boost sales of Maine lobster to European markets.  The White House called Senator Collins this morning to notify her of this positive development, for which she had strongly advocated.


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.


Under the deal reached today, there will now be a 0% tariff on live and frozen lobsters from the U.S., retroactive to August 1st.  The agreement is expected to last for five years, with the European Union taking steps to make it permanent.


“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 Collins.  “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.”


“The removal of the EU tariff on live and frozen lobster from the US is significant,” said Annie Tselikis Executive Director Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association.  “We are grateful for Sen. Collins’s commitment to supporting our industry and her dedication to assisting us resolve our market access challenges in Europe. She has been at the forefront of this issue and has worked closely with our industry and USTR for several years.”


In April 2018, Senator Collins urged U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to help expand foreign markets for American lobster in response to the economic harm caused by CETA.


In July 2018, Senator Collins pressed U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to continue fighting for the Maine lobster industry, citing CETA and China’s retaliatory tariffs.


In June 2018, the Maine Delegation hosted a meeting between top USTR officials, members of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, and local lobstermen to discuss the impact of federal trade policies on the state’s most productive and profitable fishery.


In November 2019, Senators Collins, and Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree called on USTR Lighthizer to prioritize a trade deal with the European Union (E.U.) that would reduce or eliminate E.U. tariffs on Maine lobster.