U.S. lobster exports to China tank in the first month with new tariff

America’s live lobster sales to China hit a two-year low in July, the first month a new tariff on Maine’s signature export took effect.

The United States shipped $4.2 million of live lobster to China in July, a 64 percent decline from May and June levels, according to WISERTrade, a trade analysis firm. The data shows that what had been shaping up to be a banner year for U.S. lobster sales to China collapsed after July 5, when that country levied a 25 percent import tariff on U.S. lobster.

Before the tariff, the U.S. had sold $87 million worth of lobster to China, bringing 2018 year-to-date totals to more than double the $39.5 million worth of lobster the U.S. had sold to China during that same period in 2017, which, up until 2018, had been the best year on record for live U.S. lobster exports to China, data shows.

This spring, some dealers were seeing a 120 percent year-over-year growth, according to the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association.

“We had every indication China was going to continue to be a robust market opportunity,” said Annie Tselikis, the association’s executive director.

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