Bisquey business: Maine politicians bemoan China lobster deal flop

China has failed to live up to its promise to buy more Maine lobster under a deal that opened the door to an easing of a trade war under Donald Trump, Maine’s congressional leaders say.

Maine’s lobster industry was hurt by retaliatory Chinese tariffs in 2018 but failed to see substantial export gains after China committed to buying an additional $200bn in US goods, the delegation contends.

Under the “Phase One Agreement”, China was supposed to increase purchases above 2017 levels.

But China has bought “almost no lobster above 2017 levels”, according to a letter sent on Thursday by Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, both Democratic representatives.

They urged the US trade representative, Katherine Tai, to “hold China accountable for its purchase commitments”.

The Republican senator from Maine, Susan Collins, earlier sent a letter voicing the same concerns and urging “swift and appropriate action”.

Maine’s live lobster sales to China fell in the year after the lobster tariff was imposed in July 2018 and China shifted its lobster purchases to Canadian dealers, industry officials said.

The sparring over lobster came as the US trade representative accused Beijing of failing to carry out market-opening promises made when it joined the World Trade Organization. China rejected the accusations.

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