All Sections

Home  Editorials

Lobster Wars II: Trade war comes to New England

July 20. 2018 2:33PM

Lobsters sit in a crate aboard a boat off of Hull, Mass., on May 17, 2017. (Bloomberg photo by Scott Eisen)

You may picture old-fashioned lobster traps made out of wood and rope. But nearly all of the traps used today are made out of steel mesh.

President Donald Trump's escalating trade war with China has been devastating for many local businesses, but it is hitting New England lobstermen twice.

First, Trump's steel tariffs increased the cost of doing business. And then in retaliation, China more than doubled the tariff on American lobsters earlier this month.

That gives Canadian lobster exporters a huge price advantage, and cuts into a booming export market. Live American lobsters are hit with a 40 percent tariff when they get to China. Processed American lobsters have a 35 percent tariff. Canadian harvesters only face a 7 percent tariff.

New Hampshire's lobster industry is dwarfed by our neighbors in Maine. Small fishing companies struggle to compete in a highly-regulated market against large fishing consortiums. Trump's tariffs increase their expenses and cut into their revenues.

In 2016, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen helped fend off a challenge to American lobster exports to the European Union. We would ask our congressional delegation to stand up to this self-inflicted wound to an iconic New England industry.

Trade wars are not easy to win. They are impossible to win. Rising tariffs hurt consumers and American businesses.

Business Economy Food Editorial

Newsletter Signup