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Indian shrimp exporters to fight US move

George Iype in Kochi | January 17, 2004 15:25 IST

Seafood exporters in India have hired a law firm in the United States and are raising funds to fight an anti-dumping suit that an eight-state alliance in America called the Southern Shrimp Alliance has slapped on six countries.

Accusing India, Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, China and Brazil of flooding the US market with cheap shrimps, the SSA early this month filed a request with the US International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce demanding to slap tariffs on the $2.4 billion worth shrimp imports to America.

The Alliance alleged that export of shrimp from these countries to the US have been well below 'fair value' causing 'injury' to the US industry.

Seafood Exporters Association of India president Abraham Tharakan said that the move from the SSA led by the Louisiana state is "unfair and discriminatory" because punitive anti-dumping duty on India and other countries range from 40 per cent to 200 per cent.

"We are fighting the anti-dumping charge legally in the US. We have a strong case against the US shrimpers. We are certain that we will win the case," Tharakan told rediff.com. The case is scheduled to be taken up in the US in February.

The Association has estimated that fighting the anti-dumping charge would cost around Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million).

"We are collecting funds from seafood exporters from across the country to fight the case as it would be a costly affair," Tharakan said. The Association has hired a US law firm -- Garvey Schubert Barer -- to represent India before the US International Trade Commission.

Saying that the biggest threat to Indian seafood has come from the United States, Tharakan said that seafood exporters in Asia are planning to forge an alliance to fight the alliance to encounter anti-dumping campaigns by the US producers.

He said his association is talking to major exporting associations in other Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, the Philippines and Bangladesh.

The Indian exporters have also requested the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to counter the SSA move.

Annual shrimp imports by the US are estimated to be over $3 billion and India exported shrimp worth $360 million last year.

Last month, a team of seafood importers from European Union visited a number of processing units in Kochi, Chennai and Mumbai as some European countries have been rejecting Indian seafood consignments.

The European exporters say that the Indian seafood contain antibiotic residues and traces of heavy metal, especially in fish and fish products.

European nations have come out with new regulations that any container of seafood found testing positive for chloramphenicol, the banned drug residue, would be destroyed completely.

With each container of seafood valued around Rupees 1 crore, this move has badly affected the Indian seafood exports to the EU.

Detection of the antibiotic Chloramphenicol in seafood products exported to the EU and America is the biggest problem that Indian exporters face these days. It has led to the outright ban and detention of shrimp imports in the name of food safety in European countries and the US.

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