Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Jan 02, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Industry & Economy - Anti-dumping
Dumping suit against Indian shrimp export to US China, Thailand & Vietnam also face problems
Kochi , Jan. 1
A COALITION of US shrimp farmers has filed a trade complaint seeking to curb $2.4 billion of annual shrimp imports from India, Thailand, China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Ecuador.
The SSA, which represents the interests of eight shrimp producing US States, has petitioned the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission requesting that anti-dumping duty be imposed at rates varying between 30 and 250 per cent.
Thailand and Vietnam face the lowest dumping margins, while China and Brazil some of the highest.
The US-based Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) has said it will step up support of the aquaculture industry's defence against the proposed tariffs that could increase the price of shrimp over 260 per cent.
"GAA stands for fair trade if shrimp are being unfairly traded in the US, anti-dumping action is appropriate. However, GAA is concerned about the use of tariffs to artificially sustain the competitiveness of fishermen," said Mr George Chamberlain, President, in a statement.
"Consumers should not be penalised because some farmers can produce shrimp more efficiently than fishermen can catch them."
The filing of anti-dumping petition against the six countries including India "is a very serious, yet unfortunate move and the Government feels that the action is unwarranted and unjustified", Mr Jose Cyriac, Chairman of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), told Business Line.
Mr Cyriac said: "The introduction of scientific farming has not only resulted in increased productivity but has reduced the cost of production from shrimp farms."
This has enabled the US consumer access cheaper shrimp from overseas. "It is sad that the trade and industry of the US, perceived as the champions of free trade, should take up such an issue."
The petition alleged that various forms and means of dumping were being perpetrated by these six countries.
It said in some instances, the countries were exporting their shrimp products at prices far lower than those prevalent in their local markets.
In other instances, the products were said to be dumped at prices lower than the cost of production.
India has been accused of dumping products at lower export prices compared to exports to other countries; the export prices to the US is alleged to be far lower than to Japan. "This is baseless and totally incorrect," Mr Cyriac said.
Various varieties of warm water shrimp produced in these six countries were mentioned in the petition, which also challenged the import of frozen, canned, cooked and raw shrimp in most product forms from these countries.
According to the petition, imports from these countries has resulted in the shrimp prices from local producers falling by half in the last two years.
The Indian seafood community has decided to fight the case and it will be represented by Ms Lizbeth Levinson, partner with Garvey Schubert and Barer. The cost of the legal battle in the US courts is expected to add up to $1.5 million (Rs 7.5 crore).
Schedule for suit
* Jan 6: ITC will issue questionnaire to top foreign producers, domestic producers and importers to collect financial, production, shipping and pricing data for the last several years.
* Jan 20: ITC will decide whether the petition reflect a sufficient qualified representation of the domestic US producers.
* Jan 21: Representatives of both sides of the case will testify at the ITC hearing in Washington DC. The GAA President, Mr George Chamberlain, and the President of the American Seafood Distributors Association, Mr Wally Stevens, are expected to speak against the petition.
Representatives from all the six affected countries are also expected to strongly oppose the petition through their lawyers.
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