Trump's inauguration features US seafood, a possible signal to industry
Some United States seafood organizations see the inclusion of American seafood at the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump today as a positive sign for the Trump administration’s still-to-be-formed domestic seafood policy.
The inaugural festivities will feature a luncheon where the president and his entourage will dine one a meal where American seafood, including lobster from Maine and shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, will take center stage. Virginia beef and California wines are also on the luncheon’s menu.
“Needless to say, we are excited that the President-elect has chosen two fisheries resources for the inauguration celebration of 2017,” said C. David Veal, executive director of the American Shrimp Processors Association in Biloxi, Mississippi. “Any effort to bring wild-caught domestic resources to the forefront is welcome.”
Veal believes that the inclusion of U.S. seafood in the inauguration ceremony is a sign that American seafood suppliers will be treated favorably by the incoming Trump administration.
“We certainly hope that the President-elect’s continued discussion about American jobs and the domestic economy foretells his commitment to a healthy and vibrant industry,” Veal said. “We are particularly excited today by the comments made by Secretary of Commerce Nominee Wilbur Ross, about American fisheries.”
During Ross’s Congressional hearings on 17 January, he vowed to make sweeping changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but also said that he is not opposed to the U.S. trading goods with other countries.
“I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade. But I am pro-sensible trade, not pro-trade that is to the disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing community,” Ross said at the hearing, The New York Times reported.
Early in the hearing, Ross expressed a desire to support domestic seafood industries. However, U.S. seafood importers and global trading partners are concerned about the incoming Trump administration’s criticism of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The industry is also concerned with previous statements made by Trump promising to place a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, one of the most important U.S. seafood trading partners.
But Ross downplayed the possibility of imposing any tariffs on Chinese goods, instead stressing tougher enforcement of existing rules as a way to deal with China and other countries.
“China is the most protectionist country of the very large countries. They talk more about free trade than they actually practice,” he said.
Matt Jacobson, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative in Portland, Maine, declined to speculate on Trump’s position on trade, but said he was thrilled that lobster from Maine was going to play a front-and-center role in some of the President-elect’s first moments in his new job.
“Maine lobster is an iconic product that represents American values. It’s an industry comprised of hard-working men and women who take great pride in the heritage of the fishery and are always excited to bring our product to the plates of diners across the world –whether it be a simple lobster roll, a beachside lobster bake, or an American tradition such as this,” Jacobson said. “Any time we can have Maine lobster appear on menus, it helps to drive awareness of our fishery and allows us to share our story.”