The Maine lobster industry has been devastated by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China. Photo: Handout

According to the latest data from the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), the state’s lobster exports to China have plunged dramatically in the wake of retaliatory tariffs placed on US goods, according to SeafoodSource.

Prior to the tariffs, Maine had been on track to have a record year, with US$87 million worth of lobster exported through June 2018, more than double the $42 million worth shipped in 2017.

Soon after tariffs were implemented, however, Maine’s exports to China nearly disappeared completely, and according to the latest data from the MITC exports have plunged nearly 84 percent since the tariffs were implemented, according to the report.

Despite the threat of escalation, for many lobster exporters, the damage has already been done.

“Retaliatory tariffs … doesn’t really change anything for US exporters to mainland China,” Sheila Adams, vice-president of sales and marketing for Maine Coast Lobster, told SeafoodSource.

“If we do business into mainland China, it tends to be very opportunistic, based on supply and demand. It’s gone from very regular large-scale relationships, to very opportunistic.”

Lobster represents the largest export for the state of Maine by value, the report said. According to the US census, Maine exported $386 million worth of lobster in 2018, representing 13.7% of the value of exports from the state.

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