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Gulf Shrimpers Petition Trade Commission On Shrimp Pricing

By Evelina Burnett | Published 13 Aug 2013 09:19am | comments

A coalition representing the Gulf shrimp industry will argue before the International Trade Commission at a hearing today that U.S. shrimpers and processers are being injured by foreign subsidies on imported shrimp and they’re hoping this will level the playing field for American shrimpers.

 A shrimp boat loads up with ice at the Pass Christian harbor. The current price of shrimp ranges, depending on the size of the crustacean, but dealer Jerry Forte says he’s seen a jump of about 10 to 15 cents per pound in the past few days. That’s welcome news for the struggling Gulf shrimping industry, but Forte says it’s still not enough,

"The price needs to be higher where all the boats can make a living and all the dealers can make a living," he says.

 Between hurricanes, soaring gas prices and the oil spill, the Mississippi shrimp industry has had a rough time. Forte says shrimp prices now are lower than they were 25 years ago. One of the main factors driving down prices is competition from imported shrimp. David Veal of the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries says these imports have an unfair advantage: government subsidies.

"We will compete with any business firm around the world, but a processor in Biloxi competing with the government of India is not something that we're able to do, and if they subsidize their industry to the tune of 20 or 30 or 40 percent per pound, there's no way for an American business to compete with that," Veal says. 

The Department of Commerce will also release a report today with its final determination of foreign subsidy rates in seven countries. In a preliminary report in May, it found subsidies ranging from about 2 percent to as much as 62 percent. It then put in place temporary bonding requirements reflecting these rates.

"Those had an immediate and rather dramatic affect on the price of shrimp here in this country and we've seen a dramatic increase in dockside price that vessels are being paid for as a result of that," Veal continues.    

 The International Trade Commission is expected to issue its opinion in September. If it finds U.S. companies are being injured by the subsidies, the commerce department can then issue tariffs on the imported shrimp.  







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