WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 5-1 Tuesday to extend antidumping duties on imported shrimp for another five years after the domestic industry, especially hard-hit on the Gulf Coast, made a strong case to continue the tariffs on freshwater shrimp from Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
“I think it’s great,” said shrimp processor Jonathan McLendon, controller of Biloxi Freezing and Processing. “It’s great for the industry. It’s great for America. It’s great for jobs.”
The industry fought for duties earlier in the decade as a flood of imports left the U.S. wild-caught shrimp industry with about a 10% market share. After last year’s BP Gulf oil spill, the market share has fallen into single digits.
“This will allow us to make long-term capital investments in our business. We wouldn’t invest in a new process if we didn’t think there were boats out there shrimping,” said McLendon. “We’re just excited because we get to invest in our business and continue our heritage.”
The Southern Shrimp Alliance, which represents the industry in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, welcomed the decision. “Our industry still has a lot of work to do to ensure that it can remain competitive,” said SSA executive director John Williams, “but at least this should give us the opportunity we deserve to compete on a level playing field.”
Mississippi Republicans, U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and Rep. Steven Palazzo of Biloxi issued a statement praising the agency for its decision.
“The ITC correctly recognized that the antidumping duty order is needed to give the shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico a chance to compete, survive and prosper,” said Cochran, who testified to the ITC in support of domestic producers. “Shrimping is not an easy business, but it is a time-honored way of life on the Gulf Coast. I am pleased with the extension of the antidumping order and the protection it offers the shrimp industry against excessive underpriced imports.”
Wicker, who also testified at the ITC hearing earlier this year, said, “The decision to continue antidumping orders on foreign shrimp is a significant victory not only for the Mississippi shrimping industry but also for American consumers,” said Wicker. “After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, a serious recession, and the Gulf oil spill, American shrimpers and seafood processors deserve a chance to preserve their way of life.”
Palazzo said, “Our shrimp industry is an example of the resilience and determination expressed by all Mississippians in the wake of the BP oil spill. Today’s decision means that our shrimpers can continue to recover unimpeded, resulting in more jobs and a stronger economy in Mississippi.”
Shrimp production in Mississippi totaled about 10 million pounds in 2009, a 26% increase compared to 7.8 million pounds in 2005. The 2009 season was valued at almost $13 million, and the industry had an estimated $115 million economic impact on the state.
The duties vary by the country of origin, with producers from Vietnam, for example, paying from 2.96% to 25.76% on farm-grown shrimp, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept.’s International Trade Administration. The People’s Republic of China’s rates range from zero to 112.81%; Brazil’s, from 6.96% to 67.80%, India’s, from .79% to 110.9% and Thailand’s from 1.11% to 57.64%.
ITC Chairman Deanna Tanner Okun, Vice Chairman Irving Williamson, and Commissioners Charlotte Lane, Shara Aranoff, and Dean Pinkert voted to keep the duties, first imposed five years ago, in place. Commissioner Daniel Pearson voted against the extension. The agency was required to review the duties under a five-year review process set by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.