Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that the Phase One Trade Deal signed by the United States and China today includes a provision that will benefit Maine’s lobster industry. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called Senator Collins personally to inform her of the good news and attributed the insertion of the provision to her tenacious advocacy.
The deal, focused on overall structural reform in China, includes purchase agreements formalizing China’s commitment to buy more American goods and services in a variety of sectors as part of a truce in the U.S.-China trade war. Senator Collins repeatedly urged the Administration to prioritize the lobster industry in its trade negotiations with China. As a direct result, lobster is specifically highlighted in the agricultural sector purchase agreement.
“The inclusion of this provision in the Phase One Trade Agreement is a significant victory for Maine’s lobster industry, which has been unfairly harmed by retaliatory tariffs,” said Senator Collins. “I appreciate USTR Lighthizer’s responsiveness to the concerns industry members & I raised and for his efforts to secure the provision in the agreement. 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, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Maine delegation to address the numerous challenges the industry faces.”
“This trade agreement will provide lobstermen and women a more level playing field and stabilized access to China’s rapidly growing market for imported seafood products. Senator Collins is doing an incredible job looking out for the interests of Maine’s workers and industries in our trade agreements and negotiations,” said USTR Lighthizer.
“The Maine Lobster Dealers' Association has worked closely with the Maine Delegation on major trade issues for several years now. The delegation helped us coordinate a meeting with USTR in 2018, opening critical lines of communication to officials involved in trade policy that directly impacts Maine lobster companies,” said Annie Tselikis Executive Director Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association. “The Chinese retaliatory tariffs have placed Maine lobster exporters at a disadvantage in that market for 18 months, in which time Canada became the major player in that market. We are grateful to Sen. Collins, her staff, and the entire delegation for their unwavering support and dedication to the success of the lobster industry. China presents incredible opportunity for the coastal Maine economy and regaining access to that market is essential for our long term growth.”
"This is great news for lobster dealers, fishermen, communities and the State of Maine,” said Dave Sullivan, Grand Lodge Representative for the Machinists Union representing the Maine Lobstering Union. “The lobster industry has faced many hurdles the last couple years and this agreement will help open markets back up to keep Maine companies competitive with Canada."
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.
At a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in July 2018, Senator Collins, a senior member of the committee, pressed USTR Lighthizer to address China’s retaliatory tariffs targeting the lobster industry.
In February 2019, the Maine Delegation wrote to USTR Lighthizer, calling on him to make the lobster industry a priority in the ongoing trade negotiations with the Chinese government.
At a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in March 2019, Senator Collins told Gil Kaplan, the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, about the importance of expeditiously resolving the international trade barriers harming Maine seafood exports.
In May 2019, Senator Collins wrote to NOAA’s new Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy to underscore the crucial importance of developing new and expanding existing markets for lobster.
In June 2019, the Maine Delegation wrote to President Trump, asking him to consider the lobster industry in his latest trade relief package.
In July 2019, the Maine Delegation wrote to USDA, urging them to include significant funding for Maine’s lobster industry as the Department finalized their aid package for agricultural producers affected by China’s retaliatory tariffs.