Fish & Seafood

American Lobster Exporters Gain Duty Free Access to EU Market

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The European Union has eliminated tariffs on frozen and live lobster products imported from the United States as part of a package that includes a 50% reduction on a number of EU exports to the US. The agreement, announced on August 21 by United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, will increase market access for hundreds of millions of dollars in US and EU exports.

The deal puts American exporters of lobster to Europe back on a level playing field with Canadian competitors, who have benefited from duty-free access to the EU market for several years now. In 2017 US sales of lobster to Europe were valued at over $111 million.

John Connelly, president of the Alexandria, Virginia-headquartered National Fisheries Institute (NFI), applauded the agreement, which mark the first US-EU negotiated reductions in duties in more than two decades, commented:

“The duties on live and frozen US lobster shipped to the EU had been between 8 and 20 percent, but, as part of the bilateral agreement, the rate will drop to 0 percent.  This achievement will provide an immediate and sorely needed boost to the men and women who harvest American lobster and the lobster processors and distributors who together supply this great product to consumers in the vital EU market and around the world.

“President Donald J. Trump, along with Ambassador Lighthizer and his team, deserve great credit for making American seafood exports a priority. Likewise, this would not have been possible without the continued and forceful advocacy of Senator Susan Collins of Maine.”

The EU has eliminated the lobster tariffs on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) basis, retroactive to August 1, 2020. Duty free status will remain in effect for a period of five years, and the European Commission will initiate procedures aimed at making the tariff changes permanent.

The United States will cut by 50% its tariff rates on products exported by the EU worth an average annual trade value of $160 million, including certain prepared meals, certain crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, cigarette lighters and lighter parts.  The US tariff reductions will also be made on an MFN basis, retroactive to August 1, 2020.

“As part of improving EU-US relations, this mutually beneficial agreement will bring positive results to the economies of both the United States and the European Union.  We intend for this package of tariff reductions to mark just the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements that create more free, fair, and reciprocal transatlantic trade,” said Ambassador Lighthizer and Commissioner Hogan is a joint statement.

“This is welcome news for the hardworking men and women in Maine’s lobster industry who are facing severe financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing trade war [with China] that has reduced exports,” said Senator Collins.

“The removal of the EU tariff on live and frozen lobster from the US is significant,” said Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association Executive Director Annie Tselikis. “We are grateful for Senator Collins’ commitment to supporting our industry and her dedication to assisting us resolve our market access challenges in Europe.”