January 18, 2005
Mr. Wally Stevens
Shrimp Task Force Chairman
Slade Gorton & Co., Inc.
225 Southampton Street
Boston, MA 02118
Re: Tsunami Challenge
As you are aware, many of the countries affected by the recent tsunamis produce shrimp for export to the United States. Two of these countries, India and Thailand, will be subject to antidumping duties later this month because they have been found selling shrimp into the U.S. market at dumped prices at the expense of U.S. jobs. All tsunami-afflicted countries require a fair, non-dumped price for their products to help rebuild their communities. By paying shrimp producers in India and Thailand a fair price for their product, they will not only receive much needed revenue, but they will be able to avoid antidumping duties on their products. For these reasons, the U.S. shrimp industry today challenges shrimp importers in the United States to help tsunami-affected countries by paying full, fair value for imported shrimp from those affected countries.
The Department of Commerce found six countries have engaged in the illegal practice of “dumping.” Imports from the countries found to be dumping shrimp surged more than 71 percent between 2000 and the first half of 2004. At the same time, prices plummeted 39 percent from $5.12 to $3.14. If importers had paid non-dumped, year 2000 prices for shrimp from the six target countries last year (Jan-Nov), foreign shrimp producers would have received another $1.1 billion for their product — including $575 million more for Thailand alone.
The Shrimp Task Force has wrongly accused the U.S. shrimp industry of attempting to block imports from the United States. Let me be clear: this challenge is to continue to import shrimp from tsunami-afflicted countries, but to pay the countries the full, fair value of the shrimp. The Southern Shrimp Alliance has long stated that the purpose of our successful trade actions is to prevent the damages caused by dumping, not imports.
The Shrimp Task Force has also claimed that the Byrd Amendment, which allows industries that have proven injury from unfair trade practices to be reimbursed for qualifying expenditures, is the real reason U.S. shrimpers filed the trade action. If U.S. shrimp importers take up this challenge for all six countries found to dump shrimp into the U.S. market, then no dumping will be found in the future, duties will not ultimately be collected, and nothing will be distributed to the U.S. shrimp industry. Again, the Southern Shrimp Alliance stresses that we brought the trade action to stop dumping and that the trade-weighted duty of 17.22 percent will accomplish that goal should the market distortion continue.
Shrimp farmers in India and Thailand need your cooperation and understanding to have continued open and fair access to the U.S. market. India and Thailand need your help to get a higher price that they can take home, rather than a low price and a duty to Uncle Sam. All of the tsunami-ravaged countries need greater revenue to help rebuild their communities, and U.S. shrimp importers are in a unique position to help while remaining profitable (as you were in 2000).
Now is the time for U.S. shrimp importers to pay shrimp producers the full and fair value of their product. This will allow shrimp farmers in the tsunami-affected countries to escape payment of antidumping duties and will restore free and fair trade to the U.S. shrimp market.
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