WASHINGTON — Gulf Coast fishermen showed up in force Tuesday to tell the International Trade Commission not to revoke anti-dumping duties on shrimp imports from Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
The five-year review of the duties brought out forceful testimony from Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both Mississippi Republicans, as well as Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Also testifying were Gulf Coast processers Richard Gollott Sr. of Golden Gulf Coast Packaging Co. and Jonathan McLendon of Biloxi Freezing & Processing Inc., both of Biloxi, Miss., Steven Bosarge of Bosarge Boats Inc. of Pascagoula, Miss., and Angel Truong of Biloxi-based Asian Americans for Change, representing Gulf Coast-based Vietnamese-American shrimpers.
"I thought it went pretty good," Bosarge said after the hearing. "I think we pleaded our case very well and the commissioners were well-interested in what we had to say."
Bosarge said he was "very optimistic" that the six-member International Trade Commission would vote to continue the tariffs in a decision that's expected by mid-March.
Cochran and Wicker argued that the duties imposed five years ago have stabilized prices and helped preserve the domestic shrimping industry.
"Before imposition of the anti-dumping orders, domestic prices for shrimp were in a state of free-fall trying to compete with unfairly priced imports," Cochran testified. "The shrimp industry relies on the International Trade Commission to enforce our trade laws, to help ensure our domestic workers and domestic industries can compete fairly in the international market place. I urged the commission to vote against revocation of the anti-dumping orders. Revocation could permanently destroy this nation's domestic shrimp industry."
Lawyers who represented the importers from the five countries argued that the market should set the prices.
"Over the past several years, the volume of imports has been virtually identical every year, regardless of hurricanes, the recession, the oil spill or rising diesel prices," said Warren E. Connelly of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, which is representing China and India in the case. "The assertion that imports are somehow going to surge if the tariffs are removed is baseless."
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