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Shrimpers opposed to Thai settlement

BILOXI — The American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA) is strongly condemning the proposed settlement and revocation of the antidumping order on imported shrimp from Thailand.

ASPA said it believes that the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), the purported representative of the domestic shrimp industry, is “selling out the American shrimp industry to Thailand in order to make a quick buck.”

SSA and the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA) announced a settlement proposal Nov. 2. The announcement provided no details on the amount of money SSA would receive in the settlement or what SSA would do with the money received in the settlement. SSA and TFFA filed a joint request for a changed circumstances review at the Department of Commerce Nov. 12 to effectuate the proposed settlement. ASPA immediately filed its opposition and the Department of Commerce rejected the request Nov. 18 finding that the SSA does not represent substantially all of the domestic shrimp industry.

SSA is continuing to seek support for its settlement efforts and has engaged in an informational campaign in Louisiana and the Gulf South. SSA has circulated documents supposedly describing the amounts available under the settlement, but has fallen short of describing how the money would be distributed under the settlement.

According to a recent story on Seafood.com, an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service, SSA previously settled certain administrative review requests in exchange for payments purportedly as high as $18 million. To ASPA’s knowledge, SSA has not distributed any of that $18 million directly to its members or to the domestic industry. According to SSA’s non-profit tax forms filed with the IRS, it paid out $6.456 million in legal fees for 2007 and 2008. According to John Sackton at Seafood.com, SSA is on track to have exhausted its funds by 2010 and is in need of additional funds to perpetuate its existence.

SSA’s campaign to seek support for the proposed settlement includes flyers that suggest the industry would only receive $60 million through Byrd distributions on entries from Thailand, while a minimum of $100 million would be available for distribution through a settlement. ASPA strongly disagrees with SSA’s figures. ASPA estimates that the amount available to the industry is as high as $117 million, the approximate amount contained in Customs and Border Protections’ current account balance, subject to a slight potential reduction based on pending administrative reviews and litigation. Also, under SSA’s proposed settlement, the United States government would forfeit roughly $120 million in funds that would otherwise go to the Treasury. That money would be refunded to the Thailand entities under the proposed settlement. ASPA is working closely with its Congressional representatives to make sure that the money helps the domestic shrimp industry.

The proposed settlement is being considered at a time when Thailand reportedly has major stockpiles of excess shrimp capacity that will soon flood the US market without the protection of the antidumping duties, causing even more harm to the domestic shrimp industry, according to ASPA.

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