Possible duties, EMS put shrimp buyers on edge


Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business associate publisher and editor

Published on
January 29, 2013

Shrimp was a popular topic at the first day of the Global Seafood Market Conference in Santa Monica, Calif. It’s not just global production that is keeping buyers on their toes, but the unknown variables of early mortality syndrome (EMS) and possible countervailing duties on exports to the United States.

 Shrimp from China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam is now the subject of a countervailing duty investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission. There was apprehension about how the case could play out over the next year or so. Several of the shrimp-producing countries were in the antidumping suit brought back in 2005, but this time around Indonesia is new to the import argument. The result of the case could be determined by the end of this year, and the information gleaned from the supply chain over the next few months will play an important role in the investigation.

 “As an importing industry, we need to mobilize throughout the supply chain and engage key buyers in the shrimp category — large retailers and operators. Their voice will be very important in this case. I’d encourage importers to speak to your large customers and get them up to speed in terms of the risks and issues,” said Bryan Rosenberg, president and CEO of Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods.

 Travis Larkin, president of the Seafood Exchange, noted that countervailing duty cases tend to have lower tariffs than antidumping cases.

 “It doesn’t appear [the current case] will have as much of an impact as antidumping did. But it may impact Indonesia because they haven’t been through this before,” said Larkin.

 Aside from the subsidy case, shrimp buyers are looking at a “white knuckle year” in terms of supply. The amount of product flowing to China has picked up quite a bit and is impacting all markets.

 The presence of EMS in production of several Asian shrimp-farming countries is cause for concern.  Researchers will know more about the source of EMS after a few months of colder temperatures.

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