Donald Trump Rescues Lobster-Men From Barack Obama's Trade War With China
Donald Trump yesterday signed an executive order that would make the Maine lobster industry eligible for the same subsidies that the administration has been giving out to farmers hurt by the "very easy to win" trade war Trump launched with China. The move was apparently a follow-up to a meeting Trump held three weeks ago in Bangor, where he told representatives of the lobster fishery that he would make everything better for them after Barack Obama ruined their industry, which of course Obama didn't.
Trump followed yesterday's executive order with a tweet in which he once again blamed Obama for problems in Maine's fisheries, which saw exports to China plummet after China imposed retaliatory tariffs on lobster in 2019, during what was apparently Obama's third term.
The Bangor Daily News notes that Trump got right on the aid to the lobster industry, ordering his trade adviser Peter Navarro to allow the subsidies with blazing efficiency, just a year after Maine's congressional delegation pleaded for help in a June 2019 letter. Damn, Obama never answers his mail, either!
Trump's trade war hasn't done a blessed thing for Maine lobster fishing, and China's tariffs haven't hurt China either. Mostly the tariffs have been great for our fishy friends up north: "Canadian lobstermen, not subject to the punitive tariffs, took control of the market to the frustration of Maine lobster exporters."
In addition to the subsidies, Trump directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prepare a report by July 15 on whether China has started to follow through on a commitment to purchase $150 million in Maine lobster under the recent "Phase One" trade agreement. Trump instructed Lighthizer to "consider" retaliatory tariffs on Chinese seafood if the initial targets weren't met. We can only assume China would then retaliate by upping the tariffs on American didgeridoos and lemur parts.
At that June 5 meeting, Trump signed an order that he pretended would help Maine's fishing industry by opening up the "Northeast Canyon and Seamounts Marine National Monument" in the Gulf of Maine to commercial fishing. Obama declared the monument in 2016, so it goes without saying Trump couldn't let that stand. But the order was purely symbolic, since even before getting limited protection by Obama, the area accounted for "less than 5 percent of the regional fishing catch."
There's also the not-insignificant detail that Trump may lack the legal authority to order modifications to how national monuments are exploited, so there will be lawsuits before even that tiny part of territory can be fished.
Yep, that's what Trump meant when he claimed Obama had devastated fishing and lobstering in Maine. As a Bangor Daily News editorial points out, even the industry-friendly Trump goons assigned the task of weakening protections for national monuments had trouble framing the marine monument as a terrible drag on the economy:
One member of the monument review team suggested removing language from a memo that showed that commercial fishing vessels caught less than 5 percent of their landings from areas within the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument. The information "undercut the case for the commercial fishing closure being harmful," the member wrote.
Still, Trump had a fine old time at that meeting, which was set up by former Maine governor Paul LePage, who also hates Obama. Trump repeatedly blamed Obama for all the region's problems, along with wondering whether the Coast Guard or Navy could scare off other countries' fishing boats.
The editorial notes that while Trump and LePage had an "equally garbled" discussion of the tariffs' effects on Maine's fisheries, with LePage badly understating the amount of lobster trade with China the state had lost. LePage said lobster exports had declined from 600,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds, when in reality,
In the first half of 2019, America exported about 2.2 million pounds of lobster to China, according to data from the U.S. federal government. The country exported nearly 12 million pounds to China during that same period the previous year, the Associated Press reported. About 85 percent of the U.S. lobster landings are in Maine.
Also, the meeting somehow never actually mentioned that China's tariffs were raised after Trump placed tariffs on Chinese imports to the US. Minor detail, given Barack Obama's eating all the lobsters for himself and his ungrateful America-hating family.
At least one good thing came out of that meeting, which was this brilliant video by comedian Sarah Cooper. You may have to click the blue birdie to see it, since Barack Obama has been messing with our platform.
How to lobster https://t.co/PZTlomCi5T— Sarah Cooper (@Sarah Cooper)1591664046.0
You may be seated.
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