CANADIAN CRUSTACEANS. A 3.5-pound lobster is
held by a dealer at Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, Maine.
America’s lobster exports to China have plummeted this year as
new retaliatory tariffs have shifted business to Canada. (AP
Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
From The Asian Reporter, V29, #17 (September 2, 2019),
U.S. exports to lobster-loving China go off
cliff amid tariffs
By Patrick Whittle
The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen
off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the
seafood business farther north.
China, a huge and growing customer for lobster, placed heavy
tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — in
July 2018 amid rising trade hostilities between the Chinese and
the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, business is booming in Canada, where cargo planes
are coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick,
to handle a growing bump in exports. Canadian fishermen catch
the same species of lobster as American lobstermen, who are
based mostly in Maine.
The loss of business has brought layoffs to some Maine
businesses, such as The Lobster Co., of Arundel, where owner
Stephanie Nadeau has laid off half the 14 people she once had
working in wholesale.
"They picked winners, and they picked losers, and they picked
me a loser," Nadeau said. "There is no market that’s going to
America has exported less than 2.2 million pounds of lobster
to China this year through June, according to data from the U.S.
federal government. The country exported nearly 12 million
pounds during that same period last year. That’s a more than 80%
In Canada, exports to China through June were already
approaching 33 million pounds, which is nearly as much as all of
The value of Canada’s exports was nearing $200 million in
U.S. dollars through June and was almost sure to outstrip last
year’s total of more than $223 million. America’s exports
through June were valued at less than $19 million, more than $70
million behind where they were through June 2018.
Lobster prices paid by American consumers have remained
fairly steady during the trade dispute, and there remain many
buyers for U.S. lobster. But the loss of China as an overseas
market is happening at the end of a decade in which the U.S.
seafood industry experienced exponential growth in lobster
exports to the country. The U.S. exported about 800,000 pounds
of lobster in China in 2010 and more than 20 times that last
The American lobster industry is looking to open up new
domestic and international markets to make up for the loss of
China, said Marianne LaCroix, who directs the Maine Lobster
Marketing Collaborative. Maine lobsterman Brian Rapp will attend
a trade show in Hong Kong and a trade mission to Dubai in
September to promote U.S. lobster, she said.
"China is so large that you have to look at a number of new
markets to replace that business," LaCroix said.
In Canada, the boost to business has helped the industry but
also led to uncertainty about its future, said Geoff Irvine,
executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.
The American and Canadian lobster industries overlap, with
some businesses operating on both sides of the border, and it’s
more beneficial to the lobster industry at large for trade to go
on unimpeded, he said.
"Whenever there’s any kind of uncertainty, it makes people
worry," Irvine said. "Everybody would like to see the entire
lobster industry open and free."