Probe begins into charges of shrimp dumping in US

Tuesday, 27 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: The US Commerce Department has begun a probe into charges of dumping of shrimp against countries like India, China and Vietnam, amidst protests from American businesses and international shrimp importers.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), comprised of shrimp industry interests from North Carolina to Texas, wants tariffs against the countries it accuses of dumping to be raised to a high of 267 percent from the present 30 percent.

The SSA says that six countries - India, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Ecuador and Brazil - have created massive shrimp farms with government subsidies and dumped shrimp into US markets at prices much below what they sell in other countries.

Mexico, one of the larger shrimp exporters to the US, was not been named in the SSA petition because the Mexican government has pledged to support the US action and begin action against other shrimp-exporting countries on its own.

International reaction to the SSA petition has been instant and loud, according to media reports here. Most vocal has been the American Seafood Distributors Association, a group formed by some of the largest seafood buyers in the US, including the Red Lobster restaurant chain and many major importers.

Association president Wally Stevens said his group was fighting to maintain American jobs created by imports and to protect lower shrimp prices to consumers, according to a press release.

He contended that since shrimp imports have exploded to nearly 90 percent of US consumption, further imports should be allowed without any restrictions as the market now depends on them.

Vietnam, the largest exporter of shrimp to the American market, has accused the US of protectionism and has set aside $1.5 million to fight back.

It hired a major US law firm recommended by the American association's attorneys. Brazil, Thailand and India have each hired US law firms.

China has formed the South China Shrimpers Alliance as a counter measure and to seek legal representation.

According to a SSA press release, Ecuador, confident that it will not be found to be dumping shrimp, is waiting in the wings so as to recapture the US market.

And Indonesia, which is not named in the petition, is making plans to move in and grab some of the market if the six countries are found to be dumping.
Source: IANS
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