US bucks global shrimp price

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[1]. 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.

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