July 30, 2004



U.S. Sets Shrimp Tariffs On Thailand, India, Ecuador, Brazil

The U.S. Commerce Department expanded restrictions on shrimp imports, imposing preliminary tariffs on more than $1.6 billion worth of shrimp from Thailand, India, Ecuador and Brazil, in an effort to level the market for domestic producers.


Thailand, the largest exporter of shrimp to the U.S., faces duties of as much as 10.3 percent, after the U.S. determined companies are illegally "dumping'' their shrimp at low prices, the department said. Companies in Ecuador face duties of as much as 9.4 percent, India 27.5 percent, and Brazil 67.8 percent.


Shrimp tariffs, first imposed on China and Vietnam earlier this month, have become part of the broadest U.S. trade dispute since the Bush administration set duties on steel in 2002. The U.S. shrimp industry requested tariffs of as much as 267 percent on frozen and canned shrimp from six countries, in a complaint contested by representatives of U.S. seafood processors and by Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates Red Lobster.


The tariffs today include 3.5 percent duties against Devi Sea Foods Ltd. in India and as much as 68 percent for Norte Pesca SA in Brazil.


The Commerce Department imposed preliminary duties of as much as 113 percent on companies in China and Vietnam on July 6.


Today's preliminary ruling requires companies in Thailand, India, Ecuador and Brazil to begin paying the tariffs as early as next week. The final tariff levels could change in two more rulings that are scheduled to be made later this year.


Shrimp is America's most popular seafood, and imports account for 87 percent of the 1 billion pounds of shrimp that U.S. consumers eat each year, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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