Trade deal to bring cheap American lobsters into the EU marketplace gets the backing of the Parliament’s International Trade Committee
Irish lobster fishers have been dealt another blow as the trade deal to bring cheap American lobsters into the European marketplace gets the backing of the Parliament’s International Trade Committee.
Last week European Union lawmakers backed a trade deal negotiated by former EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan with the United States to remove EU tariffs on US lobsters. Following Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, the EU seems keen to push through the deal.
Under the agreement struck in August, the EU plans to remove tariffs of 8%-12% on imports of lobsters, while the United States will halve its duties on imports of certain glassware, ceramics, disposable lighters and prepared meals.
The deal, worth some $200 million(€169 million) in annual trade, needs to be approved by the European Parliament and by the European Council. Parliamentary backing had been in doubt given strained relations between the bloc and the administration of the US President Donald Trump, which has imposed punitive tariffs on EU steel and aluminium.
The Chair of Parliament’s International Trade Committee, Bernd Lange, said last month that lawmakers should consider rejecting the deal.
However, the committee has now backed the agreement by 40 votes to two, Parliament and it is likely to go before the full European Parliament in late November.
“Thanks to our engagement, the Commission is now more assertive on the US aluminum tariffs. This, in addition with a new US administration, puts the lobster deal in a new light,” Lange said in a statement after the vote.
“Let’s move forward and use this deal as a stepping stone for more constructive transatlantic dialogue.”
The deal will help level the playing field for US producers, notably in the state of Maine, whose European sales declined after a trade deal between Canada and the EU eliminated tariffs on Canadian lobsters.
The US industry has also been hurt by Chinese tariffs imposed in 2018 and the collapse of sales to restaurants during coronavirus-related lockdowns.
“The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) welcomes today’s announcement that lawmakers in the European Parliament’s trade committee have voted in favor of removing tariffs on U.S. lobster and encourage the full parliament to back the deal when they vote,” NFI President John Connelly said in a statement following the vote. “The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the entire seafood supply chain, including U.S. lobster, so this trade triumph could not come at a more pivotal time. It will directly help the men and women on the water, in the processing plants, and the folks who play a role in the distribution and logistics that get lobsters from our waters to dinner tables in the EU.”
The news was welcomed by the US lobster industry, who had fears that the deal was on shaky ground following comments from some members of the committee.