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ITC rules against domestic shrimp processors

GULF OF MEXICO — Shrimp processors have lost a call for higher duties on frozen shrimp imported from five countries — China, Vietnam, Ecuador, India and Malaysia.

The U.S. International Trade Commission rejected the proposal 4-2, saying the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries failed to present strong evidence that the imports were seriously damaging the processors.

A tie would have required the higher tariff.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and others argued that cheaper imports, which make up three-quarters of all shrimp eaten in the United States, get subsidies that let them undercut prices of shrimp caught in the Gulf.

“We are not throwing in the towel on this vital issue,” said David Veal, executive director of the coalition, which represents shrimp processors in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in May that subsidies in Ecuador and Indonesia appeared too small to hurt the domestic industry, but those in the other five appeared to be undercutting U.S. prices. It ordered importers to pay bonds up to nearly 63 percent to offset the subsidies until the commission ruled.

The coalition will decide whether to appeal after the commission files a report explaining its ruling, attorneys said. An appeal would go to the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York.

“We will … explore all options, including judicial review, policy changes, and other steps that may be needed to ensure that massive government subsidies are not allowed to fuel foreign exports, suppress U.S. prices, and endanger our domestic industries, including the U.S. shrimp industry,” attorney Elizabeth Drake said in a news release.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance, which represents shrimpers, blamed the coalition.

“The thirty-odd members of COGSI pursued trade relief without seeking to build support for the request within the industry,” the shrimpers’ group said in a news release. “Instead, COGSI advocated for narrow definitions of the domestic shrimp industry … In consequence, overall support for the petitions for trade relief was limited, with the vast majority of industry members declining to express any position regarding the case.”

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