Calif. importer sued over pangasius tariffs


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 11, 2011

El Monte, Calif.-based seafood importer Country Flavor Corp. and its surety are being sued by the U.S. government for failing to pay nearly USD 1 million in pangasius tariffs.

According to the government’s complaint, Country Flavor labeled the product as “broadhead,” claiming the frozen fish fillets were not subject to the antidumping tariffs slapped on pangasius from Vietnam in 2003. The case involves 13 entries of “broadhead” imported in May and June of 2006.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) laboratory in Long Beach, Calif., tested samples from each of the 13 entries and identified the fish fillets as pangasius.

CBP ordered Country Flavor to pay the tariffs at a rate of 63.88 percent for 11 of the 13 entries. But the company failed to do so and then dissolved its operations. In lieu of recovering any duties or penalties from Country Flavor, the government is seeking to recover more than USD 268,000 of the USD 1 million owed by International Fidelity Insurance Co., Country Flavor’s surety.

The government’s complaint also points out that Country Flavor began importing “broadhead” in October of 2005 and brought in more than 1.6 million pounds of the fish fillets by May 2006.  The company also began to import pangasius from Cambodia following the enactment of tariffs on pangasius from Vietnam in August 2003.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), the eight-state group representing shrimp fishermen and processors for the Carolinas to Texas, brought the lawsuit to light in a press release it circulated on Wednesday. The SSA filed the antidumping petition that led to tariffs on shrimp from six Asian and South American countries. The Catfish Farmers of America is responsible for the antidumping petition that led to tariffs on pangasius from Vietnam.

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