Washington, DC—United States Senators Lott (MS), Chambliss (GA), Landrieu (LA), Vitter (LA), and Isakson (GA) urged the Department of Commerce to enforce U.S. trade laws vigorously with regards to the review of antidumping duties on warmwater shrimp in a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Gutierrez sent May 25, 2007. The letter cited examples of lax enforcement and troubling changes in the Department’s interpretation of the U.S. trade laws that are detrimental to the U.S. shrimp industry. The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) welcomed the Senators’ expressions of concern and continued support.
“The Department of Commerce enforces the rules of fair trade. Thousands of shrimping families that make up America’s most valuable fishery rely on strong U.S. trade laws against dumped shrimp imports,” stated John Williams, executive director of the SSA. “SSA thanks each of these Senators for holding the Department of Commerce accountable for recent discretionary decisions that could significantly harm U.S. shrimpers by reducing or removing antidumping duties on key companies and delaying necessary relief funds to the U.S. shrimp industry.”
Among other examples, the Senators point to a recent preliminary ruling in which the Department altered its interpretation of a law meant to prevent the manipulation of dumping margins through “cost-shifting.” The Department determined that the law could no longer be applied to non-market economies such as China, which reverses a previous ruling in another case without a change in the statute or court precedent.
If the preliminary findings are made final in September without change, several major Chinese shrimp producers would have their antidumping duties refunded despite the continued sale of Chinese shrimp at market deflating prices.
The Senators also highlighted the harm that will come to coastal communities from the Department’s recent decision to extend its final determination in the first administrative reviews from July to September of this year. The unwarranted delay could prevent any distribution of duties subject to this review to U.S. shrimpers under the Byrd Amendment until late 2008 — a delay of a full year.
The Senators write, “Each of these actions severely and inappropriately threatens the integrity and effectiveness of our trade laws at a time when vigorous and full enforcement is necessary. We therefore ask that you address each of these issues, ensure that our trade laws are enforced to the fullest extent of the law, and recognize and offset the full amount of dumping.”
SSA hopes the Senators’ letter will encourage the Department of Commerce to review carefully its decisions in these cases and to confirm that its actions are consistent with the intent of Congress expressed in the U.S. trade laws.
SSA is a non-profit alliance of members of the shrimp industry in eight states committed to preventing the continued deterioration of America’s domestic shrimp industry and to ensuring the industry’s future viability.