President Donald Trump. (Photo: White House/CC BY 3.0)
Maine lawmakers urge Trump to avoid taxes on China seafood imports
Tuesday, June 05, 2018, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
The concern that Maine lobster will get caught up in a trade war has led the sector to urge President Donald Trump's administration not to place tariffs on seafood imports from China.
In a letter sent to the US president, Maine’s lawmakers expressed their concern the Chinese would retaliate with a similar tariff on US seafood exports, Associated Press reported.
Last year, the US imported more than USD 2.7 billion in Chinese seafood last year while the US exported more than USD 1.3 billion to China.
China is also an emerging market for US lobster, which has gained popularity there with the growth of the middle class. The value of China's American lobster imports grew from USD 108.3 million in 2016 to USD 142.4 million last year.
In this regard, Gavin Gibbons, a spokesperson for the McLean, Virginia-based National Fisheries Institute, pointed out that the letter the Maine delegation sent to Trump shows that Mainers understand that trade is a two-way street and that the US exports to China can be as important as US imports from that country.
"Sounding the alarm here is not simply about lobsters, it's about growth, revenue and jobs in Maine," he said.
“Things could go “horribly wrong” for Maine’s lobster exports in the midst of “enormous chaos” of Trump’s trade policy, said Chellie Pingree, whose district includes lobster fishing communities in southern Maine and her hometown of North Haven island.
“We didn’t always have an export market,” Pingree said. “It is just not a small matter if you lose this or it changes.”
For his part, Bruce Poliquin, whose district includes major Down East lobstering communities like Stonington, said the four lawmakers were “all for Maine all the time” despite disagreeing on national issues.
Trade was important, Poliquin said, but it had to be fair to Maine businesses and employees.
“We want to make sure we get the word out that we have to stand up for Maine workers,” he said.