Maine Lawmakers Concerned About Lobster Market Amid Fears of Potential Tariff Retaliation

Nothing brings people to the table quite like Maine lobster. On Friday, the table was set for Maine's congressional delegation to meet with U.S. trade representatives to talk to lobster trade.

"This is a big deal," said Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.

Their meeting comes one day after President Donald Trump announced plans for new tariffs on aluminium and steel from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

"Our trade policy seems to be rather chaotic in this country," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Maine's federal delegation worries that the Trump administration may be rocking the boat, and they want some stability on trade policy.

"It is never helpful in my judgement for the president to try and establish important policies through tweets," said Collins.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said they were worried that countries will retaliate against new tariffs, and hurt American products like lobster.

"This cannot be a chaotic policy," said Rep. Pingree. "The collateral damage can happen to lobsters."

In some markets, Maine lobster dealers are already at a competitive disadvantage. The European Union and Canada made a deal last year to lower the price of tariffs dramatically on Canadian lobster.

It's already impacting Maine businesses like the Calendar Islands Maine Lobster, which ships frozen lobster products domestically and internationally.

"We've had to transition business, tried to look for new markets," said John Jordan, president of Calendar Islands.

In a closed door meeting, members of Maine's congressional delegation urged federal trade representatives to consider new ways to make Maine lobster competitive, like reducing inspection fees on export products. King and Poliquin said they'd like to include lobster negotiations in an ongoing deal to trade U.S. beef products.

"In other words, surf and turf," said King.

"Why not add lobsters to the mix?" asked Collins. "That, to me, seems to be the promising short term solution, but this is very complicated."

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