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Senator Collins Urges USTR to Hold China Accountable on Lobster Purchases

China has fallen far short of its 2020 pledge to purchase U.S. goods—including lobster, which was listed in the agreement due to Senator Collins’ sustained advocacy

Washington, D.C.—Following reports that China failed to uphold its commitments to purchase American lobster and other products under an agreement it reached with the United States, U.S. Senator Susan Collins wrote to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to “take swift and appropriate action” to hold China accountable.


In 2018, China imposed a 25% retaliatory tariff on U.S. lobster.  Before the tariff, China was the second-largest importer of U.S. lobster, purchasing $128 million worth in 2017.  During the first month under the new tariffs, however, live lobster exports to China declined by 64 percent.  In January 2020, the U.S. and China signed the Phase One Trade Deal, which included a provision Senator Collins secured that boosted Maine’s lobster industry.


“China agreed to purchase at least $227.9 billion of U.S. exports in 2020 and $274.5 billion in 2021, for a total of $502.4 billion over those two years,” Senator Collins wrote.  “However, it is being reported that China purchased only $288.8 billion of these exports over the last two years, significantly less than the $502.4 billion China had promised to buy.”


“Ensuring China’s commitments are upheld is critical to Maine’s iconic lobster industry, which supports thousands of jobs and strengthens our coastal communities,” Senator Collins continued.  “I worked very hard with your predecessor, Ambassador Lighthizer, to ensure that lobster was specifically mentioned in the purchase agreement section of the Phase One Trade Agreement, and to secure a commitment from China to match or exceed their pre-tariff lobster purchase levels.”


Senator Collins requested that USTR Tai respond to the following questions on China’s U.S. lobster purchase commitments:


What is the dollar value of U.S. lobster that China promised to purchase as part of the Phase One Trade Agreement in 2020 and 2021, and how does that compare with the dollar value of U.S. lobster that China actually purchased during that time period?


What areas for improvement have you identified in your scrutiny of China’s performance under the Phase One Trade Agreement?


What actions will you take to hold China accountable to its U.S. lobster purchase commitments?



Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ letter.



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