WASHINGTON -- The future of the U.S. shrimp industry and a way of life along the Gulf of Mexico are threatened if the government doesn't set duties on the large volumes of foreign shrimp that are flooding the domestic market, shrimp producers told federal trade officials Tuesday.
"Shrimping is about much more than economics," Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne told a hearing before the U.S. International Trade Commission. "The men and women who catch our prized Gulf shrimp would call it a way of life. Allowing foreign countries to continue to engage in unfair practices will force Louisiana folks to relinquish their heritage."
The Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries, which represents producers from Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, claims that subsidized frozen warm water shrimp imports from seven countries are causing material injury to the domestic shrimp industry. The seven are China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Dardenne urged the commission to impose countervailing duties, which would increase the price of subsidized imports to how much they'd cost without subsidies.
The domestic producers say subsidized foreign shrimp reduce prices in the U.S. But some distributors and retailers are fighting the proposed duties, saying shrimp prices have been rising.
"Prices for domestic and imported shrimp soared by 20 percent or more in the second and third quarters of 2013," said Warren E. Connolly, general counsel for a group of seafood distributors and retailers.
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