Washington, DC – The U.S. International Trade Commission is examining the effect of a lobster trade agreement, between Canada and the European Union, on America’s lobster industry. In August, the United States and EU announced a bilateral accord to eliminate tariffs on lobster products, diminishing the impact of the Canadian pact. While the accord has yet to be approved by the EU, it illustrates how lobster and seafood exports remain an important trade focus of the Administration.
In testimony today Robert DeHaan, the Vice President for Government Affairs for the National Fisheries Institute said, “the President and USTR (United States Trade Representative) deserve enormous credit for addressing a glaring deficiency in U.S. seafood trade policy with respect to a large and crucial market.”
Noting that, “U.S. lobster exporters suffered an immediate and continuing loss of business starting over three years ago” from the Canada deal, DeHaan implored trade officials to push EU member countries to adopt the new agreement soonest.
Also testifying at today’s hearing, Senator Susan Collins from Maine who has been a forceful advocate for the seafood community and has successfully pushed to ensure breaking down trade barriers to U.S. lobster exports remains a priority for this Administration.
While lauding the most recent work, DeHaan highlighted other pressing industry issues, like a need for USTR to work with China to eliminate its retaliatory tariffs against seafood and a request for USDA to include seafood processors and distributors in its trade relief program designed to help the lobster supply chain.
In July U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced DeHaan’s appointment to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee that covers trade in animal products. The Committee provides advice to the Government on trade policy matters, including the operation of existing trade agreements and the negotiation of new ones.
Before joining NFI in 2011, DeHaan served as Special Counsel to the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.