Joint declaration by the United States and the European Union on customs
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan made a joint statement on 21 August 2020, announcing a settlement on a package of tariff reductions that will increase market access for hundreds of millions of dollars in the US and EU exports. These tariff reductions are the first set of arrangements since the failed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), moreover, this is the first tariff reduction that the two superpowers have agreed in more than two decades.
Under the pact, the European Union will eliminate tariffs on imports of US live and frozen lobster products, in exchange, the United States will lower its global tariffs with 50% on selected items of comparable value, which it mainly imports from Europe, such as certain prepared meals, certain crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, cigarette lighters and lighter parts. The US exports of these products to the EU were over USD 111 million in 2017, while products exported by the EU to the US worth an average annual trade value of USD 160 million. The EU will eliminate these tariffs on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) basis grounded on the similar WTO clause, retroactively as of 1 August 2020. The EU tariffs will be eliminated for a period of five years and the European Commission will promptly initiate procedures aimed at making the tariff changes permanent.
China cut tariffs on the crustacean as part of the US-China trade dispute, while in the EU market, the industry has lost ground to competitors from Canada, after the country signed a 2017 free trade agreement eliminating Europe's 8% lobster tariffs, so the EU tariff reduction was inevitable in order to maintain competitiveness.