Trump’s trade policy hurting US lobster business, industry reps tell New York Times

Published on
November 13, 2017

President Donald Trump’s “get-tough” approach to international trade negotiations is hurting the U.S. lobster business, according to industry representatives quoted in the New York Times.

An article in the newspaper’s Sunday, 12 November edition focused on the rapid expansion of Gidney Fisheries, a Nova Scotia-based lobster processor that is booming thanks to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade deal between Canada and the European Union that cut back on tariffs of imported lobster products. 

A major tenet of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policy has been “a call for the scrapping or renegotiation of global agreements that he believes put American companies and workers at a disadvantage,” the Times reported. On his first day in office, Trump withdrew the U.S. from negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and he has called for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump also killed off talks begun by President Barack Obama’s administration on an agreement with Europe known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Maine Coast Company Marketing Director Annie Tselikis, who also serves as the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association. 

“[CETA] does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.

Tselikis told the Times CETA was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.

“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs – well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.

On Saturday, 11 November, a group of 11 countries including Canada announced that they were committed to moving ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the participation of the United States.

As these deals progress, American companies, particularly exporters, are finding themselves on the losing end of global trade as their competitors abroad gain easier access to foreign markets, John G. Murphy, senior vice president for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Times.

“We live in such a low-margin world, where industry after industry is engaged in fierce global competition,” Murphy said. “There is a sense in which the United States is standing still, while countries around us are moving forward.”

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