On Thursday, the Southern Shrimp Alliance was informed by the federal interagency Section 484(f) Committee that the organization’s request for revisions to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of the ten-digit codes applicable to the importation of frozen, raw warmwater shrimp had been approved. The announcement was in response to the formal request of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, submitted earlier this year, for modifications to the statistical categories for imports of warmwater shrimp under the HTSUS code 0306.17 so as to distinguish between imports of “farmed” shrimp and shrimp that was “not farmed.”
The changes will make the HTSUS’s treatment of imports of shrimp consistent with its treatment of imports of other seafood that are both wild-caught and farmed, including trout, Atlantic salmon, Chinook (king) salmon, Coho (silver) salmon, oysters, and mussels. Further, in its request, the Southern Shrimp Alliance demonstrated that several existing federal regulatory programs required importers to distinguish between wild-caught and farmed shrimp, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s country-of-origin labeling rules, the U.S. Department of State’s Section 609 program, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Import Alerts, and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Seafood Import Monitoring Program. The Southern Shrimp Alliance argued that changes to the HTSUS requiring breakouts between farmed and wild-caught shrimp would ease the monitoring burden on each of these federal agencies.
The changes to the HTSUS will take effect on July 1, 2021, while final details regarding the exact changes to the statistical suffix numbers are not anticipated to be available until mid-June. Once these changes become effective, official data will become available regarding the volume and value of imported wild-caught warmwater shrimp as well as imported farm-raised warmwater shrimp. In its recent investigation of the impact of imports of seafood harvested through illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing on U.S. commercial fishing industries, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that 12 percent of the value of shrimp imports in 2019 were likely of wild-caught shrimp, with the remainder (88 percent) comprised of farmed shrimp.
“The Southern Shrimp Alliance is grateful to everyone on the interagency Section 484(f) Committee for their consideration of the industry’s request for changes to the statistical reporting codes of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule,” said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “Although much of the federal oversight of imported shrimp distinguishes between wild-caught and farm-raised imports, prior to this change, there has been no way to monitor whether regulatory actions have had an impact on the U.S. market. The Committee’s decision is an important step forward in making opaque foreign shrimp supply chains more transparent.”