May 17, 2004

 

 

US Trying To Resolve Dispute Over Shrimp Imports From India

 

Even as the ban on import of wild shrimps from India and several countries came into effect Friday, the US State Department is trying to resolve the matter with individual countries.

 

Import of wild shrimps from India and Bangladesh and several other countries were banned from May 14, since their harvest practices threaten endangered sea turtles.

 

Only 39 countries and Hong Kong have been certified for exports.

 

"Among the potential exporters not certified are Bangladesh, Haiti, Honduras, India and Venezuela although any shrimp raised by aquaculture from those countries would still be eligible for export to the United States," the State Department said.

 

The chief component of the US Sea Turtle Conservation Program is a requirement that commercial shrimp boats use sea turtle excluder devices to prevent the accidental drowning of sea turtles in shrimp trawls.

 

Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that meets the standards.

 

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is allowed to export wild shrimps since it is among 24 countries that have fishing environments that do not pose a danger to sea turtles.

 

These countries use manual rather than mechanical means to retrieve nets.

 

"Importation of shrimp from all other nations will be prohibited unless harvested by aquaculture, in cold waters, or by specialized fishing techniques that do not threaten sea turtles," the State Department said.

 

India, in fact, is among six countries that additionally face a dumping investigation into the import of frozen and canned warm-water shrimp and prawns.

 

Such imports from the six countries in 2002 were valued at $2,353 million. Besides India, the other countries are Brazil, Ecuador, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

 

American shrimp farmers, who formed an ad hoc committee to file a case, claimed that the foreign exporters dumped shrimp on the American market, depressing sales of US-harvested shrimp from $1.25 billion in 2000 to $559 million in 2002.

 

Imposition of antidumping duties requires final affirmative determinations both from the Department of Commerce that dumping occurred and from the United States International Trade Commission that the imports injured or threatened US industry.

 

A preliminary Commerce determination is expected by June 8.