Members of the Maine lobster industry are warning that China’s new tariffs on lobster exports could undermine the industry, NBC News reported Saturday.
On Friday, China imposed an additional 25 percent tariff on U.S. lobster exports, largely forcing lobstermen in the state to find other markets for their product. The new duties came in response to tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by President Trump.
Maine lobstermen told NBC News that China is viewed as an important market, adding that the tariffs will likely cut them off from taking advantage of the country’s growing market.
There are about 4,500 licensed lobstermen and distributors in Maine, with an additional 10,000 residents working in the industry, according to NBC.
Tom Adams, the CEO of prominent lobster distribution company Maine Coast, told NBC that 20 percent of his exports previously went to China.
“We will lose a crucial part of the market that we’ve developed over the years here in Maine — losing sales and revenue for our company, possibly making us eliminate jobs,” Adams said.
Fifty-four employees work at Adam’s facility in York, Maine, according to the network.
Another Maine lobster distributor, Mark Murrell, told the outlet that he initially had hoped Trump’s election in 2016 would help his industry
But, Murrell said, he is “not very” confident that the tariffs will help the lobster industry, adding that he wants Trump to “be more thoughtful and ask the end person — ask the source.”
“I just spent three months with a potential new buyer in Shanghai that wanted 40,000 pounds a week,” Murrell told NBC. “But when the tariff scare came, or reality now, talks really slowed down, and now it’s radio silence.”
China on Friday claimed that Trump had started “the biggest trade war in economic history” by imposing the tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods.