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UPDATED: 11:07, July 08, 2004
US shrimp ruling angers Chinese producers
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Chinese shrimp producers said Wednesday the US decision to impose high duties on their exports is unfair and the US consumers will pay the cost.

The Bush administration made a preliminary ruling on Tuesday that China and Viet Nam were dumping shrimp in the United States at below market prices and proposed duties as high as 112 per cent, according to Thursday's China Daily.

The proposed duties vary widely, from as low as 7.6 per cent to 112 per cent for China and from 12.11 per cent to 93.13 per cent for Viet Nam.

An official from the Chinese Shrimp Industry Alliance, an organization established specially because of the dumping charges, said Chinese shrimp producers were able to sell at prices far lower than American shrimp producers because they had invested in modern technology for their shrimp farms and had lower labour costs.

"We are simply more efficient than the US industry, which mostly harvests shrimp from the sea," he said.

He said it was unreasonable for the US government to protect its feeble shrimp industry to the detriment of the advanced foreign industry and US consumers.

Shrimp, the most popular seafood in the United States, is dominated by foreign imports, which account for 95 per cent of the shrimp consumed in the United States.

iang Mingkai, a manager from the Zhonglian Aquatic Product Co, one of China's largest shrimp providers, said the Chinese shrimp producers were not selling below market price.

The company exports 3,600 tons of shrimps at a price of US$5,000 a ton last year.

"If we sell at below-cost prices or prices lower than in the domestic market, we cannot afford it," he said.

Shrimp exports are a major source of income for fishermen in coastal areas who will be hit badly if the anti-dumping tariffs are imposed.

Statistics provided by the Chinese Shrimp Industry Alliance estimated that China exported US$800 million worth of shrimp in 2003, half of which was exported to the United States.

The US Southern Shrimp Alliance filed a suit on December 31 last year, looking for tariffs of up to 349 per cent on shrimp from Brazil, 264 per cent from China, 166 per cent from Ecuador, 110 per cent from India, 58 per cent from Thailand and 93 per cent from Viet Nam.

The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers also expressed their anger in a statement, saying it vehemently protests the preliminary ruling.

"The unjust decision will have an adverse impact on the livelihood of millions of shrimp farmers in the coastal areas and thousands workers in shrimp processing factories in Viet Nam as well as causing direct damage to shrimp consumers," it said.

The US Ministry of Commerce ruled on China and Viet Nam separately because the two countries were regarded as non-market economies.

Decisions on the other four - Brazil, Ecuador, India and Thailand - will come at the end of this month.

The US ministry will issue its final decision in January. But the preliminary duties will be levied at the end of the week and will probably lead to higher consumer prices in the long term.

There would be a price rise of about 44 per cent for US consumers if the duties on shipments from China, Viet Nam and the four other targeted countries take effect, said Wally Stevens, president of the Shrimp Task Force.

The group is an alliance of seafood distributors, restaurants and consumer groups that opposes penalties against shrimp imports.

Source: China Daily

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