STONINGTON – Trump’s trade war with China has a ripple effect that is hitting Maine, and the state’s lobster industry.
So much so that Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is spending a few days in the Stonington area talking to residents and those who head out to sea to earn a living.
Stonington is the lobster landing capital of the country and may be one of the first places to see first hand the ripple effects of President Donald Trump’s tariff’s war with China.
Senator Angus King decided to visit the area after learning the Chinese will add a new 25 percent tariff to American seafood, produce and autos starting July 6, in retaliated for Trump’s plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods.
“The Chinese tariffs could cost us 15 to 20 percent of our sales,” King said Monday, standing outside of the Harbor Side Cafe. “That translates into lower prices at the dock, and that is what is really worrying me.”
China already imposes 10 to 15 percent tariffs on lobster that comes from the U.S. or Canadian, so this new tariff will be a penalty added to that.
“And then there is a second problem: Canada has a free trade deal with the EU. We still have our tariffs in place. That is another 15 or 20 percent,” King said. “They’re removing all the tariffs to zero on Canadian lobster. Ours is 8 percent for lobster and 16 percent for processed. That is going to kill us in the market over there.”
King called it “a double whammy for the lobster industry.”
At least one lobsterman from Stonington wasn’t worried about Trump’s trade war with China.
“Trump knows how to play ball. Leave him alone,” Frank Jones said shortly after he got off his boat at the pier in Stonington.
Another local said with the increasing number of lobsters sent to China, he worried a little, but he believes that the Maine brand will be able to stand on its own.
“I think they’ll have lobster no matter what,” said John Steeves, manager of Little Bay Seafood.
Another factor is that China’s tariff on Canadian lobster will drop to only 7 percent on July 1.
“Canada is the big gorilla in the room,” Steeves said.
King spent Monday talking to people in Stonington and will be in Ellsworth, Eastport and other communities Down East this week.
“Trade stuff is complicated,” King said. “It should be done with a scalpel, not a chainsaw.”