US and EU agree mini-trade deal to cut lobster tariffs

Suban Abdulla
·2 mins read
Last year, a request for a by the US on a lobster deal was rejected by the EU. Photo: Getty
Last year, a request for a by the US on a lobster deal was rejected by the EU. Photo: Getty

The United States and the European Union have agreed a limited trade deal, allowing US lobster exporters to enter the EU tariff free for five years.

With US president Donald Trump threatening to impose higher tariffs on European car exports, most notably from Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, if the bloc didn’t agree to end the lobster duties.

The move will be seen as an effort to de-escalate rising tensions between the two economic heavyweights after Trump slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium exports from Europe and other partners in 2017.

It is the first time the US and EU have agreed on a tariff reduction in more than 20 years, with decades-long battles over subsidies for Boeing (BA) and Airbus (AIR.PA).

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Trump has put heavy pressure on clinching the lobster deal, after Europe entered a trade deal with neighbouring Canada, which also exports shellfish.

in 2017, the US exported about $111m (£85m) worth of lobster to the EU — with Friday’s deal slashing European tariffs on lobster, that currently range between 8% and 30%.

The joint-agreement announced by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and EU commissioner Phil Hogan, still needs approval from EU governments and the European parliament.

"We intend for this package of tariff reductions to mark just the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements that create more free, fair, and reciprocal transatlantic trade," they said in a statement.

In exchange, the EU seeks to see tariffs slashed in half on a series of items worth an average trade value of $160m, including cigarette lighters, crystal glass and certain prepared meals.

Last year, the EU rejected a request by the US on a lobster deal and earlier in August the US refrained from a rise in tariffs it had threatened over European subsidies for Airbus (AIR.PA).