President Donald Trump will hold a roundtable discussion with parties involved in the commercial fishing industry during his visit to Maine on Friday, according to a White House official.
The president is slated to come to the Pine Tree State to visit the Puritan Medical Products facility in Guilford, which manufactures medical swabs used in coronavirus testing. The Guilford company is one of the two largest swab manufacturers in the world and is opening a new swab manufacturing facility in Pittsfield this summer to meet the surging demand for swabs.
The company is using $75.5 million in federal funds under the Defense Production Act to open that facility.
The president is expected to discuss regulations and how to expand economic opportunities for the commercial fishing industry, according to the official.
Details of when exactly the visit will take place have not been disclosed.
Trump is expected to arrive in the state through the Bangor International Airport, and it’s unclear how he will travel to the Piscataquis County town roughly 45 minutes away. A helicopter may be used, as videos posted to social media showed government helicopters taking off from and landing at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford on Tuesday. U.S. aircraft have also been spotted near Bangor International Airport this week.
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Commercial fisheries have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic as restaurants and seafood counters have closed, creating a drop in demand.
Before the pandemic, Maine’s iconic lobster industry was contending with a shrinking export market due to China’s imposition of tariffs on the crustacean as part of an escalating U.S.-China trade war. China had been a growing market for Maine lobster exports for years, but Maine lobster exports had fallen sharply since the imposition of tariffs.
However, the Chinese government earlier this year had committed to buying more U.S. lobster as part of Phase I of a new U.S.-China trade deal.
The lobster industry has also pushed back against expected new regulations from the federal government that would require them use less fishing line and weaker rope to reduce the entanglement risk for endangered North Atlantic right whales. Federal regulators have also endorsed plans to have lobstermen mark their fishing gear so it’s easier to determine if whales are becoming entangled in lobster fishing gear.
Trump’s visit to Maine on Friday will be among his first outside of Washington, D.C., in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic has limited the president’s travel. It comes as his relationship with Gov. Janet Mills grows increasingly testy, with the governor telling Trump in a call Monday that his visit to Maine could cause “security problems” for the state.
Trump’s visit is also coming as protesters across the nation and in Maine demonstrate in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer kneeled on him for nearly nine minutes. Trump has called governors “weak” for not taking tougher measures to dispel protests.
Organizers are planning a Black Lives Matter rally in Guilford corresponding with the Friday visit.
Watch: Hundreds gather in Portland for protest