U.S. trade investigation to study lobster tariffs

ROBERT F. BUKATY/AP file photo/The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating "possible negative effects" on the American lobster industry from Canada's trade deal with the European Union.

The U.S. International Trade Commission has embarked on an investigation into "possible negative effects" on the American lobster industry from Canada's trade deal with the European Union.

The commission said it will investigate the overall economic impact of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement on the volume of U.S. exports of lobster to the European Union and the United Kingdom.

That trade deal between Canada and the EU removed all tariffs on imported Canadian lobsters and gave Canada's lobster suppliers a clear advantage in the EU market, where U.S. suppliers faced an 8% tariff on their lobsters.

Lobster fishing is based mostly in New England and is one of the region's the most lucrative marine industries. Massachusetts is the biggest exporter of lobster, behind Maine. Gloucester is the Bay State’s top port when it comes to lobster landings, while Rockport is in the top five.

 

The commission also said it will explore "tariff treatment of U.S. and Canadian exports of lobster to the EU, the UK and other major destination markets, including but not limited to China, since the implementation of CETA."

The investigation was requested by U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer after it was included in a presidential memorandum issued by President Donald Trump.

The commission is seeking public comment and plans an Oct. 1 webinar. The commission said information on how to participate in the webinar will be posted to its website no later than Sept. 4.

The final report is set to be released before Jan. 29, 2021, the U.S. trade commission stated.

The U.S. investigation was launched only three days after the Trump administration announced a new deal with the EU that removed the 8% tariffs on U.S. lobsters for the next five years and possibly as a permanent arrangement.

The Canadian government and lobster trade groups said they are studying the trade commission's proposal and will closely monitor the investigation.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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