FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2004
The PBN Company
CITAC/ASDA SHRIMP TASK FORCE DENOUNCES DOMESTIC
SHRIMPERS ATTEMPT TO PRESSURE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT
TO BEND RULES TO APPLY DUTIES EARLY
Washington, DC The CITAC/ASDA Shrimp Task Force today denounced the Southern Shrimp Alliances (SSA) attempts to convince the U.S. Commerce Department to bend its own rules and impose a retroactive tax on shrimp imports even before the Departments deadline for announcing preliminary dumping margin determinations in the shrimp dumping case.
On May 19, 2004, the DOC announced that, due to the complexity of the trade case, it had moved the dates to announce its preliminary determination as to whether dumping has occurred and, if so, what margins would be applied. Dates for the non-market economies of Vietnam and China were moved from June 8, 2004 to July 2, 2004; dates for Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Thailand were moved from June 8, 2004 to July 28, 2004.
That same day, the SSA filed a request with the Commerce Department alleging that shrimp imports from four of the six countries (Vietnam, Thailand, China, and India) had surged and should be subject to retroactive duties (taxes). The Commerce Department can impose retroactive duties (taxes) if it determines that critical circumstances a surge of imports shortly after a dumping petition is filed exist.
According to Commerce Department standards, in the shrimp dumping case, a countrys shrimp exports must have increased at least 15% between the date the dumping petition was filed (December 31, 2003) and March 31, 2004 to justify retroactive duties. There could be no retroactive liability in this case for Thailand, Vietnam, or China because imports from Thailand barely increased (by just 4%), while those from Vietnam and China actually decreased in the three-month period (by 18% and 22%, respectively).
The SSA and its lawyers know that if the Commerce Department follows the normal rules for a trade case, they will lose, said ASDA President Wally Stevens, who also serves as Chairman of the Shrimp Task Force. It seems SSAs solution is to once again pressure the Commerce Department to bend its own rules.
In its letter requesting immediate retroactive duties (taxes), the SSA demands that the Commerce Department compare shrimp imports for the six-month periods before and after August 2003 the month in which the SSA reportedly voted to consider filing an antidumping petition.
The only way the lawyers could conjure up even the remotest appearance of an import surge was to construct an abnormal time period, said Stevens. We find SSAs request to be totally inconsistent with Commerce Department practice. The SSA knows it cant show an import surge in the three month period following the filing of the case, so it wants the Commerce Department to tack on an extra three months, and take the strange step of deciding whether imports surged after a petition was filed by examining shrimp imports before the petition was filed.
Stevens added, No one could have predicted when or even if the SSAs petitions would actually be filed in 2003, given all the discussion in the news media about the domestic shrimp industrys inability to gain support for the case. In fact, he pointed out, there was serious talk of a petition well before August 2003, and there was real doubt that SSA would actually file the petitions right up until the December 31, 2003 filing date.
The Commerce Department should reject the SSAs allegations as gerry-rigged claims and manipulation of the rules which have no place in a federal investigation, concluded Stevens. If the rules are fairly applied, we are confident that no dumping will be found. SSA has repeatedly tried to pressure Commerce to change the rules because they cannot win a fair fight.
Thanks largely to a steadily increasing supply of low-cost imports, shrimp has risen to become the nations #1 seafood product. Nearly 90% of all shrimp consumed in the U.S. is now imported, much of it from countries utilizing modern aquaculture techniques that enable exporters to efficiently farm and export their product year-round at low prices. The six countries targeted by the petitioners are responsible for approximately 75% of shrimp imports into the U.S.
Due to the threat that duties pose to both consumers and to the consuming industries that serve them, the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) has formed an alliance with the American Seafood Distributors Associations (ASDA), bringing together concerned grocers, restaurants, processors, distributors, business councils and other consuming groups to form the CITAC/ASDA Shrimp Task Force. The goal of the Shrimp Task Force is to assure that the U.S. government considers all the facts in the case fairly and objectively, with a full understanding of the ramifications of any decision.