SSA Decries WTO Bond Ruling
The Southern Shrimp Alliance yesterday called on the U.S. Trade Representative to appeal the World Trade Organization's Feb. 29 ruling that the U.S. practice of collecting cash deposits in the form of bonds from Thai and Indian shrimp exporters subject to antidumping tariffs violates international trade law.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection enacted the practice in mid-2004 to curb tariff evasion on farmed seafood and produce products, and so far it has been applied only to shrimp.
The SSA, an eight-state group of shrimp fishermen and processors, said yesterday that less than 15 percent of shrimp tariffs have gone uncollected since the practice was implemented, and that tariff evasion will increase significantly without an effective mechanism to enforce tariff collection.
Thailand and India are among the six Asian and Latin American countries the U.S. Department of Commerce hit with shrimp tariffs in early 2005 after the SSA filed an antidumping petition in late 2003.
"Our government should be outraged. The USTR should be outraged. Foreign governments brazenly provide export subsidies to their shrimp industries that put Americans out of business," said SSA Executive Director John Williams in a press release. "And rather than stopping subsidization from distorting our market, the WTO has condemned reasonable efforts to address importers' failures to make good on massive debts to our government.
"This cannot be what we negotiated for when we entered the WTO," he added. "Our government must defend our trade laws. Every federal elected official and every person seeking federal office, particularly those seeking to lead our country, must do everything they can to ensure that our trade laws are enforced. There are too many people's livelihood at risk and too many communities in the Gulf Coast and Southeast Atlantic facing ruin to ignore the devastation caused by unfair trade. This industry cannot be sacrificed for empty promises that our communities will, at some indeterminable point in the future, enjoy the benefits of free trade."