U.S. court rejects COGSI shrimp countervailing duty appeal

By

Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
April 6, 2015

The U.S. Court of International Trade has rejected an appeal to a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) not to levy countervailing duties against five countries that export shrimp to the United States, saying the infamous 2010 BP oil spill is more responsible for domestic producers' recent hardships.

The appeal came from the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries (COGSI), which initially filed in December 2012 for relief with the ITC and the U.S. Department of Commerce. At the time, COGSI claimed that the farmed shrimp industries of China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were unfairly benefiting from subsidies from their respective governments. After its Period of Inquiry (POI), the ITC later found that five of those nations – China, Eduador, India, Malaysia and Vietnam – were not trading unfairly.

“Upon review of the record, the court finds reasonable the ITC’s conclusion that COGSI’s suffering during this POI was mainly caused by the BP oil spill and not by reason of subject imports,” Gregory Carman, senior judge with the court, wrote in his 3 April findings, referring to the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill in 2010. “Subject imports supplied the void in the market demand caused by a third party, and the foreign producers were merely taking advantage of a business opportunity. This does not constitute unfair trade.”

COGSI had argued that the ITC should have begun its inquiry in 2009, rather than 2010, due to the potential skewing of data caused by the oil spill’s impact on prices and supply.

“The record shows that the ITC considered the BP oil spill in its selection of the three-year POI,” Carman wrote. “The court further finds that the ITC’s choice of a three-year POI is not unreasonable and consistent with its prior practice.”

COGSI also argued that the ITC did not take all relevant pricing data into account, but the court found that the ITC’s methods for assessing both pricing and supply during the inquiry were sufficient to back the ITC’s conclusions.

“The mere fact that COGSI did not agree with this conclusion does not make it unreasonable,” Carman wrote in his opinion.

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