On Friday, the U.S. International Trade Commission released its views supporting the agency’s preliminary finding that there was a reasonable indication that subsidized shrimp imports from China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam were materially injuring the domestic shrimp industry. The Commission’s formal publication explained that, based on record evidence of the deterioration of financial performance of domestic shrimp processors, “the large and increasing volume of subject imports had an adverse impact on the domestic industry.”
In evaluating the impact of subsidized imports on the domestic shrimp industry, the Commission rejected the arguments of the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries (COGSI), declining to limit its investigation only to shrimp processors. Instead, as argued by the Ad Hoc Shrimp Industry Committee, the Commission found that the domestic shrimp industry was composed of all domestic harvesters and processors of shrimp. Accordingly, the Commission considered the operations of shrimpers in the preliminary investigation. Despite the short amount of time made available to answer the Commission’s questionnaires, 85 shrimp fishermen responded with information sufficient to allow the agency to evaluate the condition of the fishing industry.
Although dozens of shrimpers participated in the preliminary stage of the agency’s investigation, the Commission observed that it received data “from a relatively small share of the shrimp fishermen . . .” In result, the Commission placed less weight on the experience of shrimpers. In particular, the data received by the Commission showed that shrimpers’ financial operations improved significantly between 2009 and 2011 despite steep increases in fuel prices. In the final phase of the investigations, “the Commission will seek more coverage of the fishermen segment of the domestic industry.”
The Commission also expressly found that its definition of the domestic shrimp industry included shrimp farmers and shrimp farming operations. However, no shrimp farmer responded to the Commission’s questionnaires and, for the preliminary investigation, that segment of the domestic industry did not factor significantly into the agency’s analysis. As with shrimpers and processors, shrimp farmers will have an opportunity to participate in the final phase of the Commission’s investigation should the U.S. Department of Commerce find that countervailable subsidies exist.
Also on Friday, Commerce announced that the deadline for the release of its preliminary determinations as to the existence of countervailable subsidies would be pushed back an additional 65 days. Under prevailing law, Commerce’s preliminary determinations are due 65 days (March 23rd) after the investigations were initiated. With the extension, Commerce’s preliminary results will now be due on May 28th.
The deadlines for the Commission’s final injury determination are tied to developments in Commerce’s investigations. Should Commerce return affirmative preliminary determinations finding countervailable subsidies on May 28th, the Commission will have 120 days (September 25th) to make a final determination as to whether the domestic shrimp industry is materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of subsidized imports.
Download a copy of the International Trade Commission’s Preliminary Determination and Staff Report: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Prelim-Determination-ITC-Publication.pdf
Access additional information, including questionnaires, regarding the International Trade Commission’s preliminary investigation of shrimp imports here: http://www.usitc.gov/trade_remedy/731_ad_701_cvd/investigations/2012/shrimp/prelimphase.htm