By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 20 March, 2013
Even though Vietnamese seafood exporters contend that new U.S. tariffs on catfish imports are illegal and unfair, U.S. officials disagree.
In mid-March, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued fines and a Final Determination in its review of the anti-dumping frozen fish fillet case against Vietnam. The Catfish Farmers of America filed an antidumping petition against Vietnamese pangasius exporters back in 2002, arguing that exporters were selling catfish-like fish in the U.S. market at less than fair value (http://www.seafoodsource.com/newsarticledetail.aspx?id=9602).
The new duty rates exceed 100 percent in additional duties and “effectively bar the reviewed Vietnamese exporters from the U.S. market and are punitive, not remedial”, according to a statement from the Vietnamese Associations of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The new rates for reviewed companies range from USD 0 .19 (EUR 0.15)/kg and USD 1.34 (EUR 1.04)/kg., and all other exporters have a USD 0.77 (EUR 0.60)/kg. rate.
“The DOC engineered this punitive result after intense political lobbying on behalf of the U.S. domestic industry, the Catfish Farmers of America (CFA),” the VASEP statement said. “There was no attempt to hide the multiple, high-level meetings and lobbying efforts made on behalf of the CFA directly to the DOC,” the statement added.
However, DOC officials said the agency’s review of Vietnam antidumping allegations was administered in accordable with U.S. trade laws and followed the required procedures and timing. “Commerce conducted these anti-dumping duty reviews in an open and transparent matter, with full opportunity for parties, including respondents and petitioners, to comment on the record,” a DOC official told SeafoodSource.
VASEP said the tariff rates are unfair, because the DOC is basing the rates on the value of raw materials inputs from Indonesia and on whole live fish prices. “For the past eight years, the DOC has consistently used Bangladesh to value Vietnamese fish inputs, continually rejecting Philippines and Indonesia due to the poor quality of the pricing data, the lack of publicly available financial data, and the fact that these countries have no exports to other countries,” VASEP said.
VASEP, Vietnam trade bureaus, and the individual exports affected by the fines, “are studying all options in addressing this punitive result and its legality under U.S. law and the WTO,” according to VASEP.