Local shrimpers preparing for possible US anti-dumping duties
Stabroek News
January 22, 2004

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Local shrimp exporters are bracing for possible US anti-dumping duties in response to moves by a US shrimping coalition to protect its market.

Shrimping which is big business locally is estimated to earn some US$58M annually and is listed as the sixth highest foreign exchange earner for Guyana, Foreign Trade Minister, Clement Rohee told reporters yesterday at a seminar.

According to Rohee there is need to prepare both legally and economically for the likelihood of efforts by the shrimping coalition to impose higher tariffs against Guyana's shrimp exports hence the holding of the seminar to sensitise local players in the industry.

The US Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) last year petitioned the Bush administration to take action against 10 countries including Guyana over alleged dumping of shrimp in the US market.

Guyana is currently listed as the eleventh largest exporter to the US. In the end, the shrimping coalition homed in on six of the largest exporters China, Brazil, India, Ecuador, Vietnam and Thailand.

Reuters yesterday reported that the Bush administration took the first steps towards possible steep anti-dumping duties against these nations when the US Commerce Department accepted the petition from the eight southern states who have asked for duties ranging from 25.76% to 263.68% on frozen and canned shrimp.

The Commerce Department will begin a probe to determine if the imports are being sold below fair value.

Reuters said the US International Trade Commission (ITC) could still stop the case if it determines that US producers are not being materially harmed by the imports. The ITC is expected to make a preliminary ruling on February 17. In a statement earlier this month, the six exporting countries said "no legal action will change the fact that farm-raised shrimp from exporting countries is more cost effective than US wild-harvested shrimp".

Stabroek News had reported the likely threat to Guyana's shrimp exports on September 29 last year. When the Ministry of Agriculture was contacted subsequently for comment it said

It was not aware of anything untoward in the shrimp market but was keeping abreast of issues.

As part of preparations, seafood producers along with other stakeholders in the industry began a two-day seminar on anti-dumping yesterday sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Corporation in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM).

Emphasis will be placed on the US Anti-dumping petition case against warm water shrimp entering the US.

Executive member of the Guyana Trawlers and Seafood Processors Association, Lloyd Piggott said that any increase in tariffs would further pressure the already burdened industry currently suffering depressed prices and increased operating costs.

Although Guyana is not on the list of those countries currently being targeted in the US it is the association's view that once they achieve success against those countries they would turn their attention to other significant exporters, Piggott said.

According to Piggott local seafood establishments export in the vicinity of 50M to 60M lbs of shrimp per annum to the US.

Fisheries Consultant and representative of Prittipaul Singh Investments, Reuben Charles said that the seminar is aimed at sensitising producers to the impending challenges as well preparing them if necessary to defend the industry.

He acknowledged that the industry would have to come up with a defence if and when the SSA decided to object to this country's exports.

Charles highlighted that the local industry like its US competitors harvest its stocks from the ocean which is more expensive than rearing stocks on farms.

Some countries although not cited in the US proceedings have began to lobby support of stakeholders worldwide to stop the campaign.

To this end Bangladesh, which has less than 3% of the US market has sent letters to the American Seafood Distributors Association, the Global Aquaculture Alliance and international shrimp buyers seeking their intervention in the matter.