March 20, 2017 — A new trade deal looming between Canada and the European Union is setting off alarm bells in the Maine lobster industry.
The deal between Canada and the EU – the largest seafood consumer market in the world – would eliminate tariffs on Canadian lobster exports into Europe and give the Maritimes a competitive advantage over their American counterparts, who would be stuck selling lobsters with tariffs ranging from 8 percent for a live lobster to 20 percent on processed or cooked lobster.
A weak Canadian dollar, which is now valued at about 75 percent of a U.S. dollar, will only make Canadian lobster that much more attractive to importers in the 28 member nations of the European Union, which is the second biggest importer of American lobsters, second only to Canada, according to trade data. In 2016, the EU imported $152 million worth of lobsters from the U.S., most of it from Maine.
“This is a big deal,” said Annie Tselikis, director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association. “Canada recognizes that it is an export nation. They are putting their money where their mouth is and adopting a very aggressive trade policy. They are also developing a very aggressive, smart marketing campaign abroad. It is going to be very difficult to compete with that because we sell the same product.”
The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, has been under negotiation for years. The United States was negotiating one, too, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, but it has stalled. The Canadian-EU deal appears likely to get its final OK in May, and the first phase of the deal, including the trade tariffs, would go into effect in June.