Seafood importers warn against tariff on imported shrimp
A coalition of seafood producers and distributors issued a report June 23 purporting that shrimp prices for American consumers would rise as high as 44 percent if the U.S. government imposes antidumping duties on imported shrimp from six major shrimp producing nations.
The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition and the American Seafood Distributors Associations said such a price hike could reduce availability and cause shrimp consumption to fall by one-third, with serious consequences for retailers who rely on shrimp sales. During the past 10 years, foreign sources of shrimp have enabled restaurants and grocers to sell greater quantities of the shellfish. Shrimp purchases doubled between 1995 and 2002.
U.S. shrimp harvesters and a handful of producers claim that cheap shrimp produced in overseas aquafarms is flooding the market, making it difficult for domestic shrimpers to compete. The petitioners seek duties ranging from 26 percent to as high as 349 percent for some shrimp from Brazil. The Commerce Department could set preliminary duty penalties as soon as July 2 while it further investigates whether U.S. industry has been harmed by foreign shrimp producers. Importers argue that the supply of shrimp caught in open waters is not enough to meet demand.
The 44-percent hike in the cost of shrimp represents an estimated increase of 28 percent in the price of U.S.-caught shrimp, an 84-percent increase in the price of shrimp from countries targeted in the complaint and a 19-percent increase in the price of shrimp from other foreign countries, according to the study by The Trade Partnership. The research firm studied scenarios in which duties averaged 63 percent on the low side and 117 percent on the higher side.
'Price hikes of this magnitude resulting from the domestic shrimpers' proposed food tax would do enormous damage to the industries that depend on affordable shrimp to meet consumer demand, as well as to consumers themselves, who will have to cut down on or forgo shrimp altogether,' said Wally Stevens, chairman of the Shrimp Task Force for the two industry groups that are fighting the unfair trade petitions in the International Trade Commission.
'Make no mistake about it: the petitioners' goal is to raise the price of shrimp for all Americans, never mind the cost to those on the consuming side of the industry,' Stevens, president of Slade Gorton Co., said in a statement. 'If the domestic shrimp industry wins, the rest of American loses.'