© 2024 Maine Public
1450 Lisbon St.
Lewiston, ME 04240

Maine Public Membership Department
63 Texas Ave.
Bangor, ME 04401

Portland Office
323 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

China Lowers Lobster Tariff, While Coronavirus Roils U.S. and Canada Lobster Markets

AP File

China is slightlylowering tariffson U.S. lobster, but industry observers say it is not enough to reboot Maine's languishing sales to that country. At the same time, the outbreak of coronavirus in China is hurting lobster sales abroad and domestic markets as well.

Over the last 18 months, China ramped up tariffs on U.S. lobster to 42 percent, which all but killed what had been growing exports from Maine to that country. Then last month President Trump's administration negotiated a new trade deal that included a Chinese commitment to buy more U.S. lobster.

But whether China would significantly reduce the tariff was an open question. Now, China says it will reduce its lobster tariff by 5 percent.

"A five percent reduction in the tariff schedule is an insignificant change for the lobster industry in the United States," says Annie Tselikis, executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association.

"We are trying to get a better sense for a variety of ministries within the People's Republic Of China as to how this is going to evolve. We are hopeful that we will at some point see some things more advantageous for the lobster industry and other U.S. food producers to be able to recapture part of that market."

Canadian lobster dealers have seen exports to China increase, because Canada-caught lobsters are not subject to the punitive tariffs. But the emergence of the coronavirus in China has limited Canada's sales there as well. The result: Canada is selling more lobsters into the U.S. market, which can depress prices Maine lobstermen get at the dock.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.