Lobster tariffs drop under free trade agreements

Free trade agreements in Europe and South Korea could mean good things for Maritime lobster fishermen.

Free trade agreements in Europe and South Korea could mean good things for Maritime lobster fishermen.

The federal government is creating opportunities with free trade agreements, says Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. (CBC)

Seafood shipping to both destinations has plummeted over the last few years. Tariffs have been as high as 47 per cent.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said the new agreements will encourage trade.

"Our job as the federal government is to help create the demand," said Shea.

"We're doing that by opening up the country's trade agreements, and I think it's excellent potential and opportunity."

P.E.I.'s fish and seafood exports to the EU were worth an annual average of $18.3 million between 2010 and 2012, ranking as the province's top export to the EU. But that is still less than half of what they were six years ago.

These exports face average EU tariffs of 11 per cent, with peaks of 25 per cent.

On the first day CETA comes into force almost 96 per cent of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood will be duty-free. Seven years later, 100 per cent of those tariff lines will be duty-free

Tariffs in South Korea are even higher, averaging 16.5 per cent and topping out at 47 per cent. Under the Agreement, nearly 70 per cent of fish and seafood product tariff lines will be duty-free within five years, and all remaining duties will be eliminated within 12 years.

P.E.I. Fishermen's Association president Mike McGeoghegan is pleased to see markets for lobsters opening up. (CBC)

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, is pleased to see more markets opening up.

"We do sell to 55 different countries,' said McGeoghegan.

"Anything that we can do to help the market grow would be better for us."

South Korea is currently the eighth largest export market for P.E.I., and the European Union is the sixth.

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