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Good sign for shrimp sector

Santosh Patnaik

Review may lead to revocation of anti-dumping duties

VISAKHAPATNAM: The decision of the US International Trade Commission to initiate a formal investigation of the damage caused by tsunami to the Indian shrimp industry is a positive development.

The ITC's self-initiated 120-day `changed circumstances' review may lead to revocation of anti-dumping duties that the US Department of Commerce imposed with the approval of ITC in India. Along with India, the damage suffered by Thailand's shrimp industry will also come under investigation.

Unprecedented step

The ITC voted on January 6, 2005, to approve the dumping duties that were formally imposed on Indian shrimp imports beginning February 1. Those taxes currently range from 4.94 to 15.6 per cent. The ITC also approved dumping duties on shrimp imports from Brazil, China, Ecuador, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, on the day of the vote, ITC commissioners took the unprecedented step of announcing that they would consider launching a formal changed circumstances review to determine whether the damage to India and Thailand caused by the tsunami has made shrimp exports from these countries no longer a threat to the domestic shrimp industry.

Following a 30-day public comment period, the ITC voted to formally launch the review for India. ``It is a very positive development. The decision came at a time when the industry was finding it difficult to come to terms after tsunami,'' the Marine Product Exports Development Authority Vice-Chairman, K. Haribabu, told The Hindu . Tsunami not only caused extensive damage to the fishing boats, nets, aqua units and hatcheries but also made fishing operations unviable due to dwindling catch. "There are reports that red shrimp has become almost extinct in the post-tsunami phase in the west coast,'' Dr. Haribabu pointed. The seafood industry, which had a turnover of Rs. 6,200 crores during 2003-04 registered a slight fall in 2004-05. The turnover is expected not to rise this fiscal. According to the Seafood Exporters' Association of India national president, J. Tharakan, every aspect of the industry has been hit. Tsunami impact was focused on Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala -- that together account for 75 per cent of India's total shrimp exports and for 85 per cent of the shrimp exported to the US.

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