WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is directing the Department of Agriculture to provide U.S. lobster fishermen with financial assistance to make up for lost income from Chinese tariffs.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Trump signed a memorandum Wednesday calling on the agency to make available to the lobster industry subsidies like those given to soybean and other agricultural growers.
Navarro said Trump is also directing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to report by July 15 on whether China is beginning to comply with $150 million in lobster purchase commitments under the “phase one” agreement signed by the president earlier this year. If not, Trump told Lighthizer to consider placing retaliatory tariffs on the Chinese seafood industry.
China is one of the biggest export destinations for lobster, which are trapped in the Atlantic Ocean by U.S. and Canadian fishermen. But Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods resulted in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. lobster. Canadian lobstermen, not subject to the punitive tariffs, took control of the market to the frustration of Maine lobster exporters.
The issue was raised with Trump earlier this month when he held a roundtable with industry representatives during a trip to Maine. Trump carried a single Electoral College vote in the state four years ago.
Trump's embrace of the issue comes as U.S. officials have expressed concerns that China has fallen far short of its purchasing obligations under the initial trade deal, threatening Trump's promises to hard-hit farm industries.