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Vietnam trying to settle shrimp lawsuit amicably

VIET NAM - Vietnamese shrimp exporters are trying to reach an agreement with the US Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) regarding the annual administration review over anti-dumping tax rates, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The source has said that Vietnamese exporters were aiming to reach an agreement with SSA on delaying the annual administration review for five years, and to escape from the lawsuit step by step. The anti-dumping tax rates would remain unchanged if the rates were low, while the enterprises which are imposed high tax rates would accept the review.

However, it is estimated that it will take time to reach an agreement, as the anti-dumping lawsuit involves six countries, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, Ecuador, and India, and several hundred companies.

Under US law, as of October 2007, the Byrd Amendment, under which the SSA has raised the lawsuit to get a big sum of money to protect the local shrimp aquaculture from imported shrimp, will not be valid any longer. Therefore, SSA will not receive money any more. In the last few years, the alliance has received more than $100mil.

Therefore, SSA wants to maintain the annual administration review with the shrimp exporters from six countries in an attempt to raise anti-dumping tax rates. The annual review obviously takes exporters much time and money. Several Vietnamese shrimp exporters last year reached an agreement with SSA on exemption from last year’s administration review (in return, the exporters had to pay SSA a sum of money). However, the agreement was just valid for one year.

According to Seafood.com, SSA reached an agreement with the American Seafood Distributors Association (ASDA) recently. Under the agreement, importers of shrimp from countries which are imposed anti-dumping taxes agree to pay money directly to the local shrimp aquaculture. In return, SSA will end the anti-dumping lawsuit and other legal procedures.

Analysts said that the exchange would benefit the US shrimp industry, exporters and importers.

As for the local shrimp industry, it would get a sum of money to divide fairly and clearly.

Importers would have more stable and profuse supplies. Meanwhile, exporters would have fairer competition, under which the price and quality of products would play the decisive role, rather than the capability to negotiate for low tax rates. As such, the market would be better, healthier and more dynamic for all the involved parties.

Nevertheless, the recent moves show that it is very difficult to come to an agreement. This year, SSA proves to be weaker, and it does not have much influence on importers.

Last year, the WTO said that the ‘zeroing’ method applied by the US to calculate anti-dumping tax levels was reasonable. The conclusion would encourage importers to appeal against unfavourable judgments.

Moreover, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) has announced that this year it will apply the traditional method in selecting companies for the administration review, based on general rules. For example, companies to be selected for review must be big companies which are exporting to the US market at this moment. The department will not select companies by chance, which sometimes leads to unknown companies being selected, and the tax rates on unknown companies deciding the rates for the whole industry of a country.

the Fish Site Editor

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