Trump signs memorandum to help lobster industry

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is ordering the Department of Agriculture to provide financial assistance to United States lobster fishermen to make up for lost revenue from Chinese tariffs.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Trump signed a memorandum on Wednesday asking the agency to make subsidies such as those for soybeans and other agricultural producers available to the lobster industry.

Navarro said Trump is also ordering United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to report by July 15 on whether China is beginning to meet the $ 150 million in lobster purchase commitments under the “phase one” deal. signed by the president earlier this year. Otherwise, Trump told Lighthizer to consider imposing retaliatory tariffs on the Chinese fishing industry.

China is one of the main lobster export destinations, which are caught in the Atlantic Ocean by American and Canadian fishermen. But Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products resulted in retaliatory tariffs on the American lobster. Canadian lobster fishers, not subject to the punitive tariffs, took control of the market amid frustration from Maine lobster exporters.

The problem was raised with Trump earlier this month when he held a round table with industry representatives during a trip to Maine. Trump conducted a single vote for the Electoral College in the state four years ago.

Seth Moulton, a Democrat representing Massachusetts’ Sixth Congressional District north of Boston, tweeted his support for Trump’s move, though not for Trump himself.

Trump’s acceptance of the issue comes as US officials have voiced concern that China has failed to meet its purchase obligations under the initial trade deal, threatening Trump’s promises to affect agricultural industries.