Request to lift U.S. shrimp tariffs re-filed

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
December 21, 2009

The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) on Tuesday re-filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to rescind U.S. antidumping tariffs on Thai shrimp.

The DOC had rejected the request due to numerous technicalities in the documentation, including that the SSA failed to show that a majority of the U.S. shrimp industry is in favor of dropping the tariffs, SSA Executive Director John Williams told SeafoodSource on Tuesday. But the technicalities have been cleared up and the petition has been re-filed, he explained.

In early November, the SSA and Thai shrimp exporters reached an agreement whereby Thai shrimp exporters would fund an endowment to help the U.S. shrimp industry compete with imported product in exchange for lifting the tariffs.

The SSA, an eight-state coalition representing shrimp fishermen and processors, and Thai shrimp exporters are jointly petitioning the DOC for a “changed circumstances review,” in which the agency determines whether revoking the tariffs is justified.

This month, the SSA met with the Georgia Shrimp Association and Louisiana Shrimp Association (LSA) to update them on the agreement with Thai shrimp exporters. The LSA is opposed to the settlement, according to a Daily Comet report on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA) issued a press release saying it “strongly condemns” the settlement, partly because the SSA hasn’t provided any details on the amount of money it would receive from Thai shrimp exporters or what it would do with the money.

“Our market is already in dire straits due to continued unfair trade practices by some of our trading partners,” said David Veal, executive director of the ASPA in Biloxi, Miss. “Removing the order on shrimp from Thailand will further depress our market at a time when harvesters and processors are fighting for market share and reasonable prices. At this time of economic hardship, it is more important than ever that everyone in the shrimp industry commit to its long-term viability and refuse to sell ourselves out for a quick payment.”

Williams said the SSA is not trying to sell the LSA and other groups on the settlement and already has numerous letters of documentation proving a majority of the U.S. shrimp industry is in favor of dropping the tariffs.

Enacted in early 2005, the tariffs resulted from an antidumping petition the SSA filed against shrimp exporters from six Asian and South American countries in late 2003. The SSA said the changed circumstances review would not include the five other countries subject to tariffs — China, Vietnam, India, Ecuador and Brazil.

Thailand is by far the United States’ No. 1 shrimp supplier, exporting more than 400 million pounds to the country last year, representing nearly one-third of total U.S. shrimp imports.

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