PORTLAND, Maine — Maine's congressional delegation says China is making U.S. lobster eligible for a tariff reduction. That's good news for the state's signature fishery.

The delegation says the one-year exemption process may exclude $300 million worth of U.S. seafood from punitive tariffs imposed during the trade war. Starting next week, Chinese businesses could apply for a tariff exemption that would let them buy American lobster at a lower price. 

"The problem is we're talking about relationships between our lobster dealers and lobstermen and the buyers in China, and it's going to be hard to reestablish those longer term relationships on a one year, year-to-year basis," Senator Angus King told NEWS CENTER Maine. "On the other hand, it's better than where we were a couple months ago. I think it is an opportunity for us to get back into the Chinese market."

China is one of the biggest export destinations for lobster trapped by U.S. and Canadian fishermen.

Canadian lobstermen were not subject to China's punitive tariffs and took control of the market.

"It is encouraging that China appears to be taking more steps to uphold the purchase agreements reached in the Phase One trade deal, and we will continue to monitor these developments to ensure China fulfills its obligation to buy American goods, including lobster, in amounts that exceed the level of purchases in 2017," Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden said in a joint statement. 

"We have strongly advocated for the hardworking Maine lobstermen and women who have been unfairly harmed by retaliatory tariffs. As always, we will continue to fight on their behalf, and on behalf of other Maine industries and small businesses that are affected by the ongoing trade war.”

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