US panel to vote on anti-dumping steps against Indian shrimps

Bangalore, November 2:

Indian shrimp traders anxiously awaited a US decision Wednesday on whether punitive tariffs imposed on imports of shrimp into the US would be lifted to help farmers hurt by last year’s tsunami.

The American decision comes after a review by the US government of its decision to impose punitive tariffs of 5 per cent to 16 per cent on shrimp shipments from six countries, including India and Thailand, after American shrimpers said they were hurting from unfair competition.

But India and Thailand were hit hard by the Dec. 26 tsunami, which flooded shrimp farms, destroyed fishing boats and killed thousands of fishermen, and US decided to review the tarrifs, which were imposed in January 2005.

The tariffs were imposed just 10 days after the tsunami, but came after months of investigation by the US International Trade Commission, or ITC. “We trust God and hope for a good decision tonight,” Abraham J.

Tharakan, president of India’s Seafood Exporters Association, told The Associated Press. “We did our best and I would say we have a 50-50 chance.” As part of the review that started in May, an ITC team visited Asia in August to verify the extent of the damage.

An estimated 88,000 fishing boats and more than 14,000 hectares of shrimp farms were destroyed by the tsunami in India.

The review was also expected to take into account the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita to American shrimpers.

“We were never a threat to the American shrimp industry, but the tsunami ruined our resources even further,” Tharakan said. Due to the combined impact of American duties and tsunami damages, India’s seafood exports are expected to fall by 30 per cent to US$1.03 billion (euro0.85 billion)$for the year through March. Of those, India’s shrimp exports to the United States are projected by the trade body to fall from the usual 25 per cent to about 20 per cent during the year.