COCHRAN & WICKER GO TO BAT FOR GULF COAST SHRIMPERS

Senators Appear Before Trade Panel to Argue for Duties Against Unfair Foreign Imports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today went to bat on behalf of Mississippi’s shrimp industry, testifying before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that existing antidumping duties must be extended to promote an even playing field for a way of life besieged by unfair foreign imports.

The ITC is in the process of determining whether conditions within the U.S. shrimp industry warrant the continuation or removal of antidumping duties against frozen warmwater shrimp imports from Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.

Cochran and Wicker were among the witnesses appearing before the ITC who argued that the duties imposed five years ago have been helpful in creating an environment for price stability and industry investment, and removing them now could lead to detrimental consequences for domestic shrimpers.

“Before imposition of the antidumping orders, domestic prices for shrimp were in a state of freefall trying to compete with unfairly priced imports,” Cochran testified. “The shrimp industry relies on the International Trade Commission to enforce our trade laws to help ensure our domestic workers and domestic industries can compete fairly in the international market place. I urged the Commission to vote against revocation of the antidumping orders. Revocation could permanently destroy this nation’s domestic shrimp industry.”

“In Mississippi, the shrimping industry directly creates hundreds of jobs and has a positive annual impact of roughly $115 million,” said Wicker. “Over the past several years, Gulf Coast shrimpers faced many challenges to continue their way of life. Ensuring our harvesters and processors are on a level playing field with those abroad is necessary to preserving this important cultural heritage.”

Shrimp production in Mississippi totaled about 10 million pounds in 2009, a 26 percent increase when compared to 7.8 million pounds in 2005. The 2009 season was valued at almost $13 million, and the industry had an estimated $115 million economic impact on the state.

The antidumping duties have also helped protect the Gulf Coast shrimp industry, which has been beset by a series of disasters, including hurricanes, an economic recession and the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The domestic shrimp fishermen and processors create jobs in their communities, but they cannot compete against illegal dumping by huge foreign enterprises. If they lose their businesses, they lose their only way of life and their only means of an income,” Cochran said. “The totality of adversity that shrimpers in my state have endured, including the 2005 and 2008 hurricane seasons, the economic recession, most recently, the Gulf oil spill, has been truly devastating. The industry will not survive the consequences of illegally-dumped shrimp.”

Wicker added, “I heard firsthand from Mississippi shrimp harvesters and processors during a town meeting last summer of the troubles they have experienced personally over the past years and their willingness to continue fighting for their industry and way of life. What they have endured since Katrina and last year’s oil spill clearly shows their determination to carry on through the most daunting of challenges.”

Other Mississippi Gulf Coast witnesses scheduled to appear before the Commission included: E. Richard Gollott Sr. of Golden Gulf Coast Packaging Co., Biloxi; Jonathan McLendon of Biloxi Freezing and Processing, Inc.; Angel Truong of Asian Americans for Change, Pascagoula; and O. Steven Bosarge of Bosarge Boating, Inc., Pascagoula.

The ITC could make its decision to continue the antidumping duties as soon as mid-March.

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Joint Cochran & Wicker News Release
2/1/11