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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) voted this week to continue with the investigation into allegations that seven nations are unfairly subsidizing their shrimp industries, deliberately undercutting domestic shrimp prices in the U.S.

Back in December 2012, the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries filed a petition for action with the ITC, alleging that the governments of seven countries that export shrimp to the U.S. — China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — are subsidizing their shrimp industries.

The coalition argued that such subsidies allow exporters to the U.S. to undercut domestic shrimp prices, giving them an unfair advantage. If the ITC and the U.S. Department of Commerce determine that the unfair subsidies are in fact happening, the government can charge higher tariffs, known as countervailing duties, to shrimp imports from those countries in order to balance out the subsidies.

On 7 February, ITC commissioners voted 5-1 that there was “a reasonable indication” that those subsidies exist, and that the investigation should continue. Commissioner Daniel R. Pearson voted in the negative.

The process of investigating the coalition’s claims include a series of votes like the one on 7 February, where decisions need to be made on when to proceed. The next such determination will come from the commerce department, which will give its preliminary countervailing duty determination on or about 25 March, 2013.

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