April 30, 2004



US Soybean Producers Concerned Over Shrimp Dumping Duties

American soybean producers have expressed concern over possible retaliatory measures from Thai business groups if US authorities impose anti-dumping duties on Thai shrimp.


The US industry could lose revenue of up to $200 million a year if Thai traders stop buying soybean and soybean meal from US sources, said Ron Heck, president of the American Soybean Association.


In January, nine soybean and soybean meal importing associations in Thailand issued a joint statement threatening to stop importing the products from the United States if Washington imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Thai shrimp imports.


Thailand imported $160 million of worth of soybeans and $46 million worth of soybean meal from the US last year.


''In today's highly competitive market, our industry cannot afford a $200-million loss in export sales,'' Mr Heck said in a letter sent recently to US Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Chuck Connor, assistant to President George W. Bush.


''If the trade dispute is not handled appropriately, Thailand could choose to make its soybean and soybean meal purchases from competing suppliers, resulting in loss of a market that we may not be able to regain,'' Mr Heck wrote.


Thailand imports 1.6 million tons of soybeans a year for its animal feed industry. Of the total, 540,000 tons come from the US and the rest from Argentina and Brazil. The feed industry also needs to bring in about 1.7 million tons of soybean meal this year.


The nine food industry groups have threatened to buy the raw materials from Argentina, Brazil and India if the punitive tariffs are levied.


The US shrimp industry has complained that six countries-Thailand, India, China, Ecuador, Brazil and Vietnam-have been selling shrimp below cost in the United States. The Commerce Department is scheduled to announce preliminary anti-dumping duties on shrimp imports from these countries on July 28 after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in February that the complaint was valid.


''While we sympathise with the concerns of the US shrimp industry, we are concerned by the repercussions of this dispute on our domestic soybean sector,'' Mr Heck said.


He urged the US administration to consider carefully before imposing duties in order to avoid adverse effects.