Big picture offered with shrimp trade story

Roddy Terrebonne
February 8, 2011
Krewe of Christopher Tableau Only, Monday, March 7, 8 p.m. (Thibodaux)
February 10, 2011
Roddy Terrebonne
February 8, 2011
Krewe of Christopher Tableau Only, Monday, March 7, 8 p.m. (Thibodaux)
February 10, 2011

A coalition of business and government leaders from Louisiana and other Gulf states were on hand before the U.S. International Trade Commission last Tuesday to make their case in an effort to maintain antidumping tariffs applied to imported shrimp from Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.


The hearing, which is conducted every five years, helps control imports from causing damaging competition for domestic shrimp fishermen and processors.


“The investigation is a five-year sunset review is a standing order. The review is required by law,” said U.S. International Trade Commission public affairs officer Peg O’Laughlin.

“Every antidumping duty order must be reviewed every five years to determine whether revoking it would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of the dumping (which is determined by the Department of Commerce) and the injury to the US industry (which is determined by the ITC). The hearing on Tuesday was part of the fact-gathering process to build the record upon which the Commission will base its determination,” O’Laughlin said.


“The shrimp industry has been a fundamental part of the Gulf of Mexico’s culture for generations, and it is especially important in Louisiana,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said during her testimony. “In my state we have 5,000 active shrimpers and thousands of other individuals that are employed in related activities. For most of these individuals, this is more than just a job, it is a time honored way of life.”


The shrimp industry contributes $1 billion annually to the Louisiana economy. In 2009, Louisiana shrimp harvests produced 113 million pounds with a landed value of $120 million.

Landrieu noted the high quality of Louisiana shrimp and said that imported shrimp is often grown in artificial ponds and unhealthy conditions.


Before antidumping laws were put into place, domestic prices were forced down to unsustainable levels, according to Landrieu and industry experts. “In 2010 only a quarter of Louisiana shrimpers still fish the waters along our coasts. The dramatic attrition is no doubt related to foreign imports that compete on an unlevel [sic] playing field,” Landrieu said.

The senator admitted that while domestic production was down in 2010 due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, she had no doubts that antidumping duties helped domestic shrimpers maintain a place in the market.

“The shrimp industry in my district has a rich heritage that began in the 17th century with the Creoles and Acadians settlement of our region,” state Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray, said in testimony. “For many this is the only way of life they know. … The celebrated shrimp industry in my district, across the great state of Louisiana, and across the Gulf will almost certainly be permanently damaged if the subject countries are allowed to inundate the domestic market with their dumped products.”

“I am a third-generation fisherman,” said Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry during his testimony. “I got my first boat, a skiff, when I was 14. Harvesting shrimp is not just a business. It is a way of life and culture. I think that’s probably why people continue to do it.”

This industry expert claimed that before antidumping rules were in place, prices for shrimp dramatically fell and losses increased to 84 percent. “Frankly, I don’t know where our numbers would be without the orders,” Guidry said.

“The orders have imposed stability in an industry that has faced enormous challenges,” American Shrimp Producers Association Executive Director David Veal said. “As long as the rules are followed and fair trade exists in the shrimping industry, I believe the industry will continue to reinvest in itself creating opportunities for new generations.”

Antidumping orders imposed discipline on imports that flooded the U.S. market with a 38 percent increase from 2001 to 2003. Hurricanes in 2005, 2008 and the largest man-made disaster that occurred in the Gulf in 2010 hampered domestic shrimp harvesting, and local experts contend that if current rules are not maintained the results would be detrimental to their industry.

According to O’Laughlin, the ITC will hold a public vote on the investigation in mid-March.