Collins, Poliquin fight for Maine lobster industry that may be hurt by trade agreement

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) voiced concerns on Thursday that Maine’s lobster industry will be hurt by a trade agreement that erases tariffs on Canadian lobster exports to Europe.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will immediately cut Canadian live lobster tariffs to zero, and it will eliminate tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster over the next five years.

Collins and Poliquin led Maine’s delegation in raising concerns in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that CETA would disrupt “the decades-old flow of lobster across Maine’s northern and eastern borders.”

“Though much of the lobster harvested in Maine is exported to and processed in Canada, that long-standing integration of the markets is not reflected in CETA,” the letter states. “Instead, the agreement sets a quota on the amount of U.S. lobster that can be exported to Canada and continue to qualify for preferential tariff treatment, which could cut off another important market for Maine’s lobster industry. It is vital that we support the efforts of the U.S. lobster industry to access new consumers and markets overseas.”

Maine’s lobster industry relies on European exports for approximately 15 to 20 percent of its global lobster trade each year, the lawmakers noted, and lobster exports had a $1.5 billion total economic impact on the state last year.

The delegation concluded the letter by calling on Lighthizer to engage in immediate efforts to ensure that Maine’s lobster industry has continued opportunities to flourish.