WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is questioning the effectiveness of antidumping levies as evidence mounts that some nations are finding ways to evade punishment while still flooding U.S. markets with imported shrimp, crawfish, furniture and other products.
Cochran raised the issue at a Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the enforcement of trade duties imposed on countries found to be dumping various products on U.S. markets. In addition to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, witnesses included representatives from several industries harmed by the nonpayment of antidumping penalties.
“The ability of some nations to circumvent duties and restrictions on unfair trade has serious effects on jobs and industry in Mississippi,” Cochran said. “We have to better understand how to keep our competitors from misusing U.S. laws to make it more difficult for American businesses to compete and sell their products.”
Edward T. Hayes, counsel for the American Shrimp Producers Association, provided testimony regarding the hardships caused by some nations skirting the antidumping duties imposed on shrimp, crawfish and other seafood.
“America’s seafood industry has not seen the full measure of relief intended under the law, due to duty evasion, transshipment, and circumvention,” Hayes testified. “In fact, America’s seafood industry has been perhaps the hardest hit by duty collection and enforcement shortfalls. As the Committee is aware, Customs has reported more than $1.7 billion in unpaid antidumping and countervailing duties since 2001. Unpaid duties on seafood alone account for about 40 percent, or $689 million, of that total. Most of that amount is due to duties that have not been paid by importers of crawfish and shrimp.”
Cochran, who has over the years actively supported the imposition of countervailing duties against unfairly subsidized shrimp imports, submitted questions to the CBP and ICE officials asking them to explain how their agencies are tackling duty evasion, transshipment and other practices used by countries like China and Vietnam.
Cochran also expressed interest in determining legislative changes that could make duty enforcement more efficient.