In a December 31 petition, Dewey Ballantine LLP, legal counsel for the Southern Shrimp Alliance, asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to initiate an antidumping duty investigation of frozen and canned warmwater shrimp from Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Thailand and Vietnam. SSA's case calls for duties that range 30-267% on most shrimp imported from these countries.
If approved, prices for warmwater shrimp and prawns of all species would be affected. Frozen, canned, cooked and raw shrimp in most product forms were named in the petition. Fresh, breaded and dried shrimp, as well as those used in prepared meals, were excluded.
With the formal filing of the antidumping petition the Global Aquaculture Alliance says it will step up its support of the aquaculture industry's defense against the proposed tariffs that could increase the cost of shrimp over 260%.
On January 6, ITC will issue questionnaires to top foreign producers, domestic producers, and importers that collect financial, production, shipping and pricing data for the last several years. ITC's goal is to determine whether shrimp imports caused material injury to the domestic shrimp-fishing industry.
The ITC must determine by January 20 whether the petitioners reflect a sufficient, qualified representation of the domestic U.S. producers. On Jan. 21, representatives of each side in the case will then testify at ITC hearings in Washington, D.C.
During the hearings, GAA President George Chamberlain and U.S. seafood industry representatives will speak against the petition. Although GAA is sympathetic to the plight of U.S. fishermen, Chamberlain has previously expressed that the cost of farm-raised shrimp production is declining and becoming more competitive than wild-caught shrimp.
"GAA stands for fair trade - if shrimp are being unfairly traded in the U.S., antidumping action is appropriate," Chamberlain said. "However, GAA is concerned about the use of tariffs to artificially sustain the competitiveness of fishermen. Consumers should not be penalized because some farmers can produce shrimp more efficiently than fishermen can catch them.
"We have dreaded the antidumping petition because of both the expense and effort required to counter it and the chaos it will cause for what most observers feel will be few long-term benefits. Fortunately, we have had a year to prepare, and most countries now have legal counsel and coordinated with Akin Gump to present a unified, coherent case against the petition."
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is the lead law firm hired by the American Seafood Distributors Association to direct its efforts and help other countries develop legal defenses for the petition. GAA supports ASDA and its allied groups in vigorously defending against the antidumping petition.
The lengthy antidumping petition is now being examined by Akin Gump attorneys. Its filing represents only the first step in a year-long process that also involves the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Global Aquaculture Alliance says it will send recommendations to aquaculture industry stakeholders in a few days. They may be contacted at: email@example.com