The US has announced smaller than expected preliminary anti-dumping duties on imports of shrimp from Thailand, India, Ecuador and Brazil. bq. The duties will affect imports that last year were worth nearly $1.7bn (€1.4bn, £933m), and come on top of tariffs imposed earlier this month against shrimp imports from Vietnam and China worth more than $1bn. (“Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1087374077007&p=1045050946495) US consumers have been gypped, of course. Anti-dumping is a dodgy business at best (unlikely ever to be in the interests of consumers), but it loses all credibility when ‘dumping’ is alleged against multiple suppliers to the global market. The US Commerce department has effectively anti-dumped the world market price for shrimp. The ‘dumping margins’ found are small, averaging 14 percent (top rate of 62% against Brazil). If you’re familiar with anti-dumping arithmetic you’ll understand that most of these margins are at a level where they may be little more than accidents of the methodology. Their small size may reflect the US Commerce department’s assessment of the protectionist objectives of the Southern Shrimp Alliance who brought the complaint. But small as they are, the dumping margins are likely to be larger than the profit margin of the producers—thousands of shrimp-farmers in the ‘target’ countries such as India, Equador and Thailand. The producers are typically small-holders in a family business with few resources and limited alternative employment. The decision is also a blow for more thousands of their competitors in places such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka who will now face larger volumes of competitive shrimp in their outlets. fn1. The SSA, in turn, claim their complaint was prompted by the impact on US markets of a decision of EU and Japanese authorities to restrict entry to their markets earlier this year. The EU and Japan said that the farmed shrimp from places such as Bangladesh contained toxic chemical residues and that production methods did not implement the required HACCP safeguards. The EU is now offering technical assistance to Bangladesh on this point.
Peter Gallagher is student of piano and photography. He was formerly a senior trade official of the Australian government. For some years after leaving government, he consulted to international organizations, governments and business groups on trade and public policy.
He teaches graduate classes at the University of Adelaide on trade research methods and the role of firms in trade and growth and tweets trade (and other) stuff from @pwgallagher