KEY POINTS

  • President Trump extended trade protections offered to the agriculture industry to the lobster industry in a memorandum signed Wednesday
  • Trade adviser Peter Navarro said under the memorandum, new tariffs may be imposed on China if it doesn't meet "purchase commitments" outlined in the U.S.-China trade deal
  • Trump has threatened counter-tariffs against the European Union for tariffs imposed on the U.S. lobster industry by the EU's trade deal with Canada

In a move to protect the U.S. fishing industry, President Trump signed a memorandum to help protect lobster fishermen from so-called harmful trade practices, giving them protections similar to those provided for agriculture products. The memorandum also could result in a new wave of tariffs aimed at China if certain commitments aren’t met.

“The Secretary of Agriculture shall, within 60 days of the date of this memorandum, consider taking appropriate action, to the extent permitted by applicable law, to provide assistance to fishermen and producers in the United States lobster industry that continue to be harmed by China’s retaliatory tariffs,” Trump said in the memorandum.

After signing the memorandum, Trump took to Twitter to celebrate and take aim at President Obama, saying he “destroyed” the U.S. lobster industry.

Trade adviser Peter Navarro, whom Trump nicknamed the “lobster king,” told reporters Wednesday any potential new tariffs would be the result of China failing to meet its $150 million “purchase commitments” outlined in the U.S.-China trade deal.

“If those purchase commitments are not met, the United States Trade Representative has been directed to use his discretion to impose ... reciprocal tariffs on the China seafood industry,” Navarro said.

Navarro also said the memorandum will require the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to offer recommendations on how to address the loss of revenue caused by the trade deal between Canada and the European Union. This has been another point of contention for Trump, who threatened to impose tariffs on European cars if the EU didn’t drop its lobster tariff during a campaign event in Maine.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Maine’s lobster industry was hit hard by tariffs imposed by China in 2018 and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is definitely good news,” King told Reuters. “The timing is good. This has been a tough summer for our lobstermen.”

lobster-1615906_640 Lobster Photo: Pixabay