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Chilean Salmon Industry Vindicated

by Commerce Department’s Preliminary Ruling


For Immediate Release



Claire Reade/Arnold & Porter (202) 942-5000
Mario Matus or Ricardo Rojas/Embassy of Chile (202) 785-1746
Jeanne McKnight or Heidi Davalos/SalmonChile Information Bureau (425) 451-3443


Rodrigo Infante V. or Felipe Cubillos/SalmonChile 011 (562) 699-2825
Claudia Adriasola/Burson-Marsteller Chile 011 (562) 203-5085

Chilean Salmon Industry Vindicated

by Commerce Department’s Preliminary Ruling

Washington, D.C. (November 12, 1997)-- The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) today announced it has found insufficient evidence to support the imposition of countervailing duties on fresh Atlantic salmon from Chile. The announcement came after the DOC conducted a 150-day investigation into allegations of government subsidies given to the Chilean salmon industry.

While preliminary, the ruling is viewed as an important victory for the Chilean salmon industry and the Chilean government, both of whom have stated all along that the salmon industry has been developed by private-sector businesses that operate under free market conditions.

"This ruling is a significant victory for us," said Rodrigo Infante, General Manager of the Santiago-based Association of Chilean Salmon Farmers. "It confirms what we have been saying all along: The Chilean salmon farming industry has never received special treatment by our government. Instead, our industry has grown and prospered because of our country’s natural advantages, our country-wide implementation of a free market system, and our overall commitment to offering U.S. consumers the high quality, convenient products they have been asking for. We are not, and never have been, subsidized, no matter what the U.S. petitioners have tried to claim."

On June 12, 1997, a small coalition of U.S. salmon producers filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions and asked the DOC to investigate 20 different Chilean government programs. Based on its initial investigation, however, the DOC found no subsidies to the salmon industry that warrant the imposition of temporary countervailing duties on Chilean salmon imports.

The preliminary ruling raises questions about why the Chilean salmon industry was subjected to these investigations in the first place, when the same time and energy could be used instead to increase consumer interest in buying salmon. According to Felipe Cubillos, Senior Advisor to the Association of Chilean Salmon Farmers, the ruling suggests the case against Chile has been built upon false assumptions and misinformation about Chile’s economic policies and business practices.

"We have been saying all along that Chilean producers are not receiving subsidies from our government," Cubillos said. "Now that we have been vindicated in the subsidy allegation, we must ask the petitioners why they want to continue their investigation into the dumping charges. Since it is clear to everyone that we are not receiving subsidies, why would we then ‘dump’ our products on the U.S. market? There would be no economic incentive for any company to operate in this manner."

The ruling also is being interpreted as very good news for U.S. consumers, as well as businesses and trade associations who have built their businesses around the continued availability of fresh Atlantic salmon from Chile. Of particular importance is Chile’s "consumer-friendly" boneless salmon fillet, which has revolutionized the U.S. seafood industry.

To date, more than 75 U.S. businesses have become part of an ad-hoc coalition to oppose the imposition of countervailing and dumping duties on Chilean salmon because of the threatened disruption of an industry that, according to a recent economic study, has directly and indirectly created 7,600 U.S. jobs in transportation, distribution, wholesaling, retailing, and foodservice operations. Known as the Salmon Trade Alliance, the group includes such important trade associations as the Food Marketing Institute, which represents many of the nation’s major supermarket chains and independent retailers; and major restaurant chains such as Legal Seafoods and Darden Restaurants.

"The DOC’s decision is a big relief," said Philip Walsh, Seafood Director for Harris Teeter, an upscale supermarket chain based in Charlotte, North Carolina. "The tiny U.S. industry challenged the Chileans’ right to be on the same playing field, even though the petitioners don’t have the resources or infrastructure to support the market for boneless fillets -- a market the Chileans created. Without the Chileans, it would be as if Perdue and Tyson dropped out of the poultry business," he said. "Tariffs would be a disservice to our customers and would affect our bottom line."

The DOC will continue its countervailing duty investigation and, if the current schedule holds, will make a final determination in late March 1998. In the meantime, the DOC will also continue examining the antidumping portion of the petition and is scheduled to make a preliminary determination in the antidumping investigation January 8, 1998.


Attention editors: The following U.S. salmon industry members are available to field calls on the DOC’s decision:

  • David Solomon, Aquafarms International, Miami, (305) 624-9773
  • Hugo Bryant, John Nagle Company, Boston, (617) 423-6715
  • James Craig, Marine Harvest International, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, (954) 564-7066
  • William Bryant, Ocean Fresh Seafoods, Seattle, (206) 285-2412