The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that China and Vietnam are violating U.S. trade laws by dumping shrimp in the United States. Commerce set preliminary duties ranging from 7.67% to 112.81% to offset the free trade violations in response to petitions filed December 31 by the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee. Commerce also issued a determination that the duties will be 90 days retroactive for certain Chinese exporters. Decisions regarding dumping by exporters in Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Thailand are expected on July 28.
"The U.S. industry commends the Commerce Department for its fair and reasoned preliminary decisions. These rulings confirm what the industry is painfully aware of," said Southern Shrimp Alliance President Eddie Gordon, "shrimp from China and Vietnam is being dumped. These affirmative rulings today are a critical step on the road to recovery for tens of thousands of fishermen, farmers and processors devastated by the massive volume of dumped Chinese and Vietnamese shrimp."
The CITAC/ASDA Shrimp Task Force said it would continue to fight against dumping duties on imported shrimp from China and Vietnam, and called any duty on imported shrimp a "needless tax on American consumers."
"The Commerce Department's preliminary calculation of dumping rates is unjustified and very troubling. The Bush administration has made a misguided trade policy decision that could have serious adverse consequences. The Department chose to apply the highest possible duties to many independent companies that sought a lower rate. The duties announced today will do nothing to help U.S. shrimpers' long-term problems, while needlessly penalizing both American consumers and workers in shrimp consuming industries all across the country," said Wally Stevens, Chairman of the Shrimp Task Force.
"Imposing duties of any size on shrimp imports from any country is unwarranted and simply wrong," continued Stevens. "Duties on shrimp amount to a food tax on America's #1 seafood that will hurt U.S. consumers, restaurants, grocery stores and other industries that employ 20 Americans for every one employed by the domestic shrimp industry. Domestic shrimpers should not be allowed to avoid addressing their internal problems by burdening consumers and businesses that depend on high-quality, affordable imported shrimp."
The Shrimp Task Force recently released analyses which found that antidumping food taxes imposed on shrimp imports would cause prices for all shrimp sold in the U.S. to soar as high as 44%, and that such a price hike could be accompanied by a one-third fall in shrimp consumption. In addition, in a survey of the country's top 200 chain restaurants, Food Beat Inc. found that offerings of shrimp menu items increased 47% during the last five years. A third study shows a sharp increase in grocery store and retail purchases of shrimp by American consumers of all income levels during the past several years.
The Commerce Department will also issue preliminary determinations on shrimp imports from Brazil, Ecuador, India and Thailand on July 29. Altogether, shrimp imports from the six targeted countries account for approximately two-thirds of total shrimp consumption in the United States. The DOC will make its final determinations later this year, and rates may increase or decrease from the preliminary determinations. The International Trade Commission is expected to make a final determination on the question of whether imports have injured the U.S. industry by mid-January.
"This case is far from over," continued Stevens. "The Shrimp Task Force will continue to fight to lower or altogether eliminate this unjustified food tax, just as we will fight against the threat of duties on shrimp from the four other targeted countries."
"Imported shrimp is not affordable because it's being 'dumped,'" Stevens concluded. "It is affordable because it is efficiently produced on a year- round basis using modern technology. Not only do shrimp imports benefit American consumers, who are eating far more shrimp than ever before, they also bring clear benefits to American businesses and American workers."
Copies of the DOC's fact sheet on the preliminary decision will be available at http://ita.doc.gov/media/, or by calling the Office of Public Affairs at 202-482-3809.
Due to the threat that duties pose to both consumers and to the consuming industries that serve them, the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) has formed an alliance with the American Seafood Distributors Association (ASDA), bringing together concerned grocers, restaurants, processors, distributors, business councils and U.S. exporters to form the CITAC/ASDA Shrimp Task Force. The goal of the Shrimp Task Force is to assure that the U.S. government considers all the facts in the case fairly and objectively, with a full understanding of the ramifications of any decision.
For more information on the Shrimp Task Force visit http://www.citac.info/shrimp