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European Union agrees to reduce lobster tariffs

The European Union today agreed to eliminate tariffs on imports of U.S. live and frozen lobster products while the United States agreed to reduce tariffs on other items, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan announced.

“These tariff reductions are the first U.S.-EU negotiated reductions in duties in more than two decades,” USTR said in a news release.

U.S. exports of live and frozen lobster products to the EU were over $111 million in 2017. The EU will eliminate these tariffs on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) basis, retroactive to begin August 1, 2020, which means the reduction applies to other countries as well.

The EU tariffs will be eliminated for a period of five years and the European Commission will promptly initiate procedures aimed at making the tariff changes permanent, USTR said.

The United States will reduce by 50% its tariff rates on certain products exported by the EU worth an average annual trade value of $160 million, including certain prepared meals, certain crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, cigarette lighters and lighter parts.

The U.S. tariff reductions will also be made on an MFN basis and retroactive to begin August 1, 2020.

“As part of improving EU-US relations, this mutually beneficial agreement will bring positive results to the economies of both the United States and the European Union. We intend for this package of tariff reductions to mark just the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements that create more free, fair, and reciprocal transatlantic trade,” Lighthizer and Hogan said in a joint statement.

National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly said in a news release that the announcement “is a genuine breakthrough in efforts to open more markets to high quality, sustainable American seafood.”

“The duties on live and frozen U.S. lobster shipped to the EU had been between 8 and 20%, but, as part of today’s bilateral agreement, the rate will drop to 0%,” Connelly said.

“This achievement will provide an immediate and sorely needed boost to the men and women who harvest American lobster and the lobster processors and distributors who together supply this great product to consumers in the vital EU market and around the world.

“President Trump, along with Ambassador Lighthizer and his team, deserve great credit for making American seafood exports a priority. Likewise, this would not have been possible without the continued and forceful advocacy of Sen. Susan Collins [R-Maine],” Connelly said.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said, “This is a very encouraging development and hopefully sets the stage for additional agreements between the U.S. and EU to lift tariffs on other products.”

“We stand ready to work with both governments to kick start discussions on returning to the 1994 zero-for-zero tariff agreement on spirits products on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The council and its counterparts in Europe have been encouraging both the U.S. government and the EU to end alcohol tariffs.

–The Hagstrom Report


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