Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Feb 07, 2003
Agri-Biz & Commodities
US shrimp dumping suit may lose steam
KOCHI, Feb. 6
FOLLOWING the WTO Appellate Body ruling on the US `Byrd amendment', the proposed anti-dumping lawsuit against 16 countries (including India) by shrimp industry representatives in the US, may just fracture, according to sources in the seafood industry.
An industry organisation, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, with leadership drawn from eight shrimp-producing States in the US had come together last year to discuss filing a law suit against countries whose rock bottom prices have hurt the shrimp industry.
The alliance wants tariffs on shrimp imports, arguing that the flood of cheap products from abroad is damaging the industry and jeopardising livelihoods. It is also looking at a range of alternative actions, including lobbying, promotion, and other forms of relief in addition to trade sanctions.
Mr Jose Cyriac, chairman, Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA), told Business Line that the ``writing is on the wall'' now that the US shrimpers have no reason to move forward. ``We have been denying that there has been any dumping by India. Unlike the US market, we do not have a domestic market and we are definitely not selling at lower prices. The US cannot do a `Vietnam' on us. They will not gain anything but instead will only stand to lose if they file anti-dumping charges against us,'' Mr Cyriac said, hinting that the country could face pressure in terms of countervailing duties in other sectors.
In a recent ruling, the US Department of Commerce had made a preliminary determination against Vietnamese catfish exporters, saying that Vietnam was selling catfish in the US below cost.
The US has reportedly imposed punitive tariffs of up to 64 per cent, which will harm Vietnam's growing industry.
The MPEDA chief said on his part he was confident that the US Government would repeal the Byrd amendment shortly. ``The Appellate Body has clearly and definitively condemned this measure as it is WTO- inconsistent because it is an illegal response to dumping or subsidisation. The decision of the Appellate Body is final, and the US now has to comply with it. Given the clear WTO inconsistency of the law itself and the very broad interests affected, the US should repeal the Byrd amendment without delay,'' he said.
Under the Byrd Amendment, the US Government would distribute the anti-dumping and anti-subsidies duties to the US companies that brought forward the cases.
In a recent move, the alliance has reportedly hired a leading Washington-based law firm (Dewey Ballantine) to represent them. However, while there appears to be enough money to cover the initial research, weather they could afford to pay to bring the case to court, is a bid question mark.
On their part, the firm is stated to have begun an initial bid to determine which countries may have violated US trade laws by selling shrimp at unfair prices. Reportedly, it has also been in touch with the US Department of Commerce which has jurisdiction over anti-dumping allegations and other fair-trade complaints, and is putting together information from foreign shrimp-producing nations to help identify which ones might be targets for a trade action.
According to reports, the firm has begun a preliminary investigation as to what countries and types of trade actions may be warranted. The initial investigation could take six months, but later reports have suggested that a first report will be ready in 30 days.
Shrimp is the most widely consumed seafood in the US, but according to federal government, the US still only produces about 12 per cent of what it consumes.
USDoC figures indicate that between 2000 and 2002, while shrimp imports climbed some 17 per cent, import prices dived by around 29 per cent, adding more fuel to the demands for anti-dumping lawsuits.
Like many fisheries, the shrimp industry is known for its fluctuations historically, but according to US news reports from 2000 to 2002, the price of shrimp sold in the United States dropped as much as 40 per cent, while the quality of imported shrimp has improved, according to state reports.
Meanwhile, stating that it runs counter to the principle of global free trade, Vietnam is reportedly gearing up for a US lawsuit on dumping sales and proposes to rope in Asean, China and India to fight for their free trade rights.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2003, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line