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Maine Delegation Emphasizes Need to Hold China Accountable on American Lobster Commitment

Last week’s U.S.-China trade deal does not specify the amount of China’s investment for industry; U.S. lobster exports to China have dropped dramatically as result of ongoing trade war

Washington, January 24, 2020

U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) are sending a letter today pressing U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer for specific information regarding China’s commitment to purchase lobster in the recently announced U.S./China trade deal. In the letter, the Maine Delegation urges the USTR to release China’s financial commitment to American lobster, citing China’s history of not fulfilling trade agreements and calling for transparency to ensure it lives up to this agreement.

“We were pleased that the President’s January 15 Economic and Trade Agreement included seafood purchases by China, and appreciate your efforts to explicitly list lobster as a product in that category,” wrote the Maine Delegation. “As you and your team have come to recognize through our correspondence over the last two years, the Maine lobster industry is absolutely integral to the economy of our state. To promote Chinese accountability and to aid in the enforcement of this provision, we write to urge you to make public additional details on China’s lobster purchase commitment, including the specific dollar value of China’s commitment.”

The Maine Delegation has repeatedly stood with the lobster industry, which currently faces a number of serious threats including the ongoing trade war with China and potential federal regulations associated with the ongoing North Atlantic right whale take reduction effort. In November, Collins, King, and Pingree urged the USTR to pursue a trade deal with the European Union that would prioritize lobster; in a February letter, the Delegation asked the USTR to prioritize lobster in negotiations, noting that live lobster exports to China dropped by 64% in the first month after the retaliatory tariffs were imposed. The Maine Delegation has also pressed for the Administration to offer funding to help the lobster industry access new markets, and to provide tariff relief to members of the lobster industry affected by the ongoing trade war with China – much as American farmers received government support to mitigate negative effects of the China trade war.

The full letter can be downloaded HERE.

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