tariffs

US Exports To Lobster-Loving China Plunge Amid Tariffs

Aug 26, 2019
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north.

Robert F Bukaty / AP File

Maine agriculture officials are asking the federal government to help out wild blueberry growers as they deal with the effects of rising trade disputes with foreign countries.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

With trade tensions escalating between the United States and China and a growing economic toll on Maine businesses — particularly lobster dealers — Gov. Janet Mills is emphasizing international trade as a vital part of the state's future.

SIDNEY, Maine - Maine farmers aren't major exporters to China, but that doesn't mean they're immune from a trade war.

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What impact are recent tariffs having on Maine's economy as a whole - and on specific businesses and industries? What are companies doing to adjust to the repercussions of the trade wars?

 


The Lobster Co.

Two months after new tariffs on sales of live lobsters from the U.S. to China took effect, exports are down nearly 30 percent and Maine lobster dealers are feeling the effects. Some are laying off workers, while others are scrambling to find new markets.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Maine independent U.S. Sen. Angus King had some harsh words for President Trump this morning.  King said on CNN that Trump's rhetoric going into the NATO summit played into the political machinations of Russia's leader Vladimir Putin and could weaken Western alliances.

"He [Putin] views the Western alliance as a threat and he wants to see it undermined," King said. "That's their strategy and that's why they got involved in European politics, they got involved in our politics. This is what they want to do and I'm afraid that we're playing into Putin's hands."

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Some Maine lobster dealers who have seen sales to China shoot up over the last decade are now suddenly shut out.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

Some Maine lobster dealers who have seen sales to China shoot up over the last decade are now suddenly shut out.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Maine businesses are largely unscathed by the new tariffs China is imposing on U.S. products. But there's one big exception – lobster.

Wade Merritt, the president of the Maine International Trade Center, says early salvos in the developing trade war between the U.S. and China didn't seem too bad. But the tariffs China just announced came on like a summer thunderstorm, and they will hit about one-quarter of all of Maine's exports abroad.

Governor Paul LePage says that while he supports Donald Trump and his administration, he has does not support tariffs, which he says can't work because the U.S. is too big of a user of world commodities.

This morning at the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce' s Eggs and Issues breakfast, LePage took aim at tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canadian steel. The Governor says most of the steel that comes into Maine is from Canada.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

North Berwick sports-seating manufacturer Hussey Seating is sounding alarms about the effect that President Donald Trump's steel tariffs are having on its bottom line – a concern Maine Senator Angus King says is widespread in the state and beyond.

A set of retaliatory tariffs released by China includes a plan to tax American lobster exports, potentially jeopardizing one of the biggest markets for the premium seafood.

Chinese officials announced the planned lobster tariff on Friday along with hundreds of other tariffs amid the country's escalating trade fight with the United States. China said it wants to place new duties on items such as farm products, autos and seafood starting on July 6.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

Maine’s U.S. congressional delegation is working to ensure that U.S. trade representatives will protect the Maine lobster industry from future tariff wars.

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin are meeting with trade representatives Friday in Portland to discuss the European Union’s recent tariff break for importing Canadian lobster.