United States Mobilizes to Protect Lobster Industry, Threatens Tariffs on China

FILE PHOTO: Lobsters seen in a box after being brought in by a lobster fisherman in Stonington, Maine, USA. USA, July 5, 2017. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United States President Donald Trump has signed a memorandum aimed at protecting American lobster fishermen who have found export markets to be depleting, a White House adviser called the said on Wednesday. “king of lobster,” adding that China could face new tariffs.

“If those purchase commitments are not met, the United States Trade Representative has been ordered to use his discretion to impose … reciprocal tariffs on the Chinese fishing industry,” trade adviser Peter Navarro told reporters. He was referring to the $ 150 million in purchase commitments that Beijing made under the so-called Phase 1 trade agreement between the United States and China.

In the memo, Trump also ordered the United States Department of Agriculture to provide lobster fishermen with the same kind of assistance that other parts of the agricultural sector are receiving to protect them from harmful business practices, Navarro said.

Senator Angus King of Maine welcomed the decision, saying it would make a big difference to Maine lobster fishermen who had been doubly affected by Chinese tariffs imposed in 2018 and the collapse of restaurant sales during the coronavirus blockades. .

“This is definitely good news,” he told Reuters. “The moment is good. This has been a tough summer for our lobster fishermen. ”

The office of the United States Trade Representative and the Maine Lobsters Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump earlier this month called Navarro the “king of lobster” at a Maine event, threatening to impose tariffs on European Union cars if the bloc did not lower its tariff on American lobsters.

US lawmakers in Maine have repeatedly called for help for the lobster industry, which supports the livelihood of 4,500 state-licensed lobster fishers and 10,000 others, generating an economic impact of about $ 1.5 billion each year.

Navarro said the memo also asked the USTR to develop recommendations over the next 90 days on how to address the loss of market share that American lobster fishermen have faced due to a trade agreement between Canada and Europe.

Reports by Tim Ahmann, Andrea Shalal and Daphne Psaledakis; Richard Chang and Grant McCool Edition

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