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EU / US Trade Deal a 'Kick in the Teeth' for Fishermen

In what fishermen are describing as another kick in the teeth, Ireland’s EU commissioner, the EU trade commissioner, Phil Hogan has welcomed a trade deal that is likely to depress Irish lobster prices further.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan have announced agreement on a package of tariff reductions that will increase market access for hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. and EU exports. These tariff reductions are the first U.S.-EU negotiated reductions in duties in more than two decades.

Under the agreement, the EU will eliminate tariffs on imports of U.S. live and frozen lobster products. U.S. exports of these 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. 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.

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” said Ambassador Lighthizer and Commissioner Hogan.

Reacting to the news on social media, the NIFA commented that “American lobster are potentially an invasive species and there have been multiple instances where they have been captured in the wild in EU waters having been released after being imported. This poses a real threat to the bio security of our native lobster stocks as American lobster can potentially carry a shell disease that European lobster have little immunity to. As tariffs as reduced and imported volumes increase this is likely to become a more common occurrence. But when it comes to “big trade” big Phil doesn’t seem to be too worried about bio diversity or the livelihoods of Irish lobster fishermen.”