Lobsters are finally out of the trade war steamer

An announcement from China has lobstermen breathing a sigh of relief. Lobsters, not so much.


February 27, 2020

Lobstermen around the US this week breathed a sigh of relief — lobsters themselves probably less so — after China announced that it would let businesses apply for tariff exemptions on the American crustaceans. 

The exemptions mean businesses could shell out less for Uncle Sam’s tails. As it turns out, China loves them:

  • Maine was on track to export $87m worth of lobster to China through June 2018 — more than double the amount exported through the same period in 2017.
  • Then, as the trade war reached a fever pitch, China clamped down with a round of lobster tariffs — first at 25%, then 35%
  • Within less than a year, US lobster exports had tumbled by more than 80%.

China satisfied its lobster cravings by sliding into the DMs of a favorite sidepiece: Canada. Which, to be fair, boasts the same lobster species as Maine.

The market is clawing its way back to profitability

The news rounds out a prickly period in the lobster world, including a price crash in Florida and South Africa after the coronavirus forced China to cancel seafood imports. Those seafood bans are still in place.

But a Maine delegation finally made nice with China. Under the new exemptions, lobster tariffs could go as low as 7%.

That’s no small catch: The lobster industry contributes $1B to Maine’s economy.

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