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Shrimp sale in an Indian market. (Photo: VASEP)

Seafood industry to fight US shrimpers' countervailing duties petition

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Friday, January 04, 2013, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

India’s shrimp export industry now must not only try to survive despite higher shipping freight rates for reefer cargo, but also despite the news that the US could apply a countervailing duty on Indian seafood. 

Exporting to the US would have eased the struggle faced by the Indian seafood industry given the economic turmoil in Europe and Japan’s move to accept consignments only if they came with low ethoxyquin levels.

Meanwhile, marine seafood products exports dropped in quantity and value in dollars for the six months ended September 2012. Exports slightly grew in rupee terms, The Economic Times reports. 

India’s seafood industry is now up against the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries (COGSI), which has filed a petition with the International Trade Administration of US Department of Commerce (DOC) and the US International Trade Commission (USITC), asking for the enforcement of countervailing duties on frozen warm water shrimps from China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The coalition argues that these countries’ shrimp production and export are heavily subsidized by their governments and they need countervailing duties to compensate for their unfair competitive edge. 

The move could increase duties by as much as 21 per cent for India’s seafood industry. The US already imposes a 2.52 per cent antidumping duty on Indian shrimp imports. 

"We plan to fight it in the court by engaging the best lawyers," said DB Ravi Reddy, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI). 

Officials of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) together with exporters are gathering in Chennai as the USITC would be sending exporters a questionnaire to complete within 10 days, so the USITC can finalise its hearing and make a preliminary determination by 11 February. The DOC will also have a say, Deccan Chronicle reports. 

The US is the main buyer of Indian marine products, representing 24.28 per cent for the six months ended September 2012. 

Indian seafood exports touched 349,009 tonnes worth INR 79.8 billion (USD 1.5 billion) for the first six months of FY13 (April to September 2012), down almost 7 per cent y-o-y in quantity and 17 per cent in dollar terms, with a nominal growth of 0.47 per cent in rupee terms. 

This decrease is tied to the global recession, a weaker rupee, hindered exports to Japan due to the ethoxyquin issue and China’s implementation of new regulations on exports and certification. 

Besides, as production in Southeast Asia has recovered, prices have fallen. 

"We may be able to retain last year's export figures, if not more. The impact of the US move, if it comes through, will be felt more in the next year," MPEDA said.

Related article:

- Shrimpers claim higher import duties 


By Natalia Real


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