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Tariffs: What Impact is the Trade War Having in Maine?

What impact are recent tariffs having on Maine’s economy as a whole and on specific businesses and industries? What are companies doing to adjust to the repercussions of the trade wars?


Wade Merritt, President of the Maine International Trade Center (MITC)
Kathie Leonard, President/CEO and owner of Auburn Manufacturing, Inc., an industry leader in the manufacture of advanced textiles for extreme-heat environments
Sheila Adams, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Maine Coast, a worldwide distributor of North American lobster, headquartered in York, Maine

Listen on Maine Calling

Gov. LePage heads to Iceland to participate in Arctic Circle Assembly

Gov. Paul R. LePage is leading a delegation of more than 40 Mainers to Reykjavik, Iceland, who will participate in the 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly, the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic.

On Saturday, LePage will meet with Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson to re-sign the Maine-Iceland memorandum of understanding as a symbol of renewed commitment to strengthen ties and increase cooperation in the areas of economic development, trade, energy, natural resources, transportation, culture and the arts.

The original memorandum between Maine and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland was signed in June 2014.

Read full article on Mainebiz

Tariffs on exports to China continue to hobble Maine lobster dealers

American lobster exports to China continue to plummet as the industry struggles with stiff trade barriers activated in July on its second-largest export market.

About 85 percent of the lobster exported from the U.S. originates from Maine waters, but some is shipped from other states and not reflected in Maine’s total exports. Still, Maine and Massachusetts together accounted for about two-thirds of all U.S. live lobster exports to China last year. Since July, that market has virtually evaporated.

The two states combined to export about $1.4 million worth of lobster to China in August, an 83 percent drop from June sales.

“I’m probably one of the heaviest shippers and had developed my China business more than other companies in Maine,” said Tom Adams, founder and CEO of Maine Coast Co., a live lobster wholesaler in York.

Since the tariffs went into effect, Adams has lost 90 percent of his Chinese orders. Last year, China accounted for 22 percent of his business.

“Every year since 2012 it has grown, it was growing this year before the tariffs. It is almost gone at this point,” he said.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

How is Maine affected by new USMCA trade agreement?

The White House praising the new NAFTA deal, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the USMCA affects nearly a half billion North American consumers, governing $1.2 trillion worth of trade. A team with Maine International Trade Center was one of more than 150 different state and local offices on a conference call, Monday, to learn key provisions in the new agreement. The call was hosted by the Office of U.S. Trade Representatives.

SBA awards grant to Maine International Trade Center

The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded $344,500 in funding to the Maine International Trade Center through the SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP, to support export growth among Maine small businesses.

The grant represents the largest amount ever received by the trade center through the STEP program, the SBA said.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Leader of shipper Eimskip’s move to Portland waterfront steps down

Under Larus Isfeld, the volume and value of shipments by container more than doubled in four years and the Icelandic company reached a milestone: weekly port calls in the U.S.

The longtime executive in charge of U.S. operations for the Icelandic cargo shipping firm Eimskip has resigned. Larus Isfeld worked for Eimskip for nine years and led its relocation to Portland and expansion in the city.

“It was my goal from the first day we started to get Eimskip to weekly port calls for the first time since Eimskip started sailing to the U.S. over 100 years ago,” Isfeld said in an email Monday. “We have now accomplished this goal two years ahead of schedule. It’s time for Eimskip to scale its business in the U.S. and it’s a good time for me to step away.”

Read full article on Portland Press Herald


MITC awarded $345K in federal funds to help small businesses expand globally

The Maine International Trade Center has been awarded $345,000 in competitive federal funding to help the state’s small businesses become bigger exporters.

The award from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program, announced in a news release Wednesday, will provide grants for Maine businesses to participate in international trade shows or to use business “matchmaking” services in identifying foreign trade partners. Businesses can also use the grants to develop exporting skills or hire global marketing consultants.

Read more on Mainebiz

Maine dealers say China is further inflating prices on U.S. lobster as part of tariff war

Maine lobster dealers say China is improperly inflating the market price of lobster to increase its punitive tariffs on U.S. live lobster imports.

Chinese customs officials have been calculating the 25 percent tariff on U.S. lobsters based on the market value of higher-priced Canadian hard-shell lobsters, the dealers say. U.S. firm-shell lobsters usually cost $3 to $4 less per pound than Canadian hard-shells.

The tariff China is imposing on U.S. lobsters already gives Canadian lobster dealers a competitive advantage that Maine dealers have found almost impossible to overcome in the valuable lobster export market, dealers say. They fear the additional cost of a tariff based on the higher-priced Canadian lobster will scare away the few Chinese customers still willing to consider buying U.S. lobsters.

“It makes our product even more expensive,” said Sheila Adams, a spokeswoman for Maine Coast Seafood in York. “At certain times of the year, the price difference between a firm-shell and a hard-shell lobster can be $3, $4 a pound. If it’s that big, a firm-shell lobster may beat a hard-shell on price. That’s our window. That window closes when the duty is set at a hard-shell price.”

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Many US lobster companies coping well with tariff impact

As the trade war between the United States and China continues, with indications that it may escalate even further, most U.S.-based lobster companies have seen their exports to China fall dramatically.

Despite the decrease, many companies say the market for lobster is still strong enough to keep the impact to their companies at a minimum. Some companies that never invested heavily into Chinese exports said2018 has been a better-than-average year.

“I’ve been processing lobster since 1993,” John Norton, CEO of Cozy Harbor of Portland, Maine, U.S.A, which specializes in fresh and frozen lobster tails, told SeafoodSource. “I’ve never seen a market this strong for lobster tails, ever.”

That strong demand is largely offsetting the effects of the tariffs on most of the lobster industry. Boat prices for lobster, said Norton, have remained similar to those seen in 2017.

The frozen market in Maine, said Norton, typically consumes around 50 percent of the state’s catch, while exports to China only make up between five and 10 percent.

Read full article on Seafood Source

Maine is sending far more lobsters to Canada as that country’s exports to China boom

Canadians are snapping up live Maine lobsters, buying $43.72 million worth in July, more than double in that same month last year.

The increase comes at the same time that Maine’s live lobster sales to China plummeted. China imposed retaliatory 25 percent import trade tariffs against the United States on July 5.

As Maine’s exports to China dipped, Canada sold close to 58 percent more live lobster to China this July compared to July 2017. To handle the extra crustacean sales, Canadian airports are adding extra flights to Asia, according to the website Seafood Source.

But the tariffs instigated by the U.S.-China trade war tell only part of the story of the high export numbers, U.S. lobster sellers say.

Read full article on BDN Maine