Achieving Equitable Benefits of Trade Relief

The most pressing question confronted by the SSA with respect to trade issues is: How does this benefit the domestic industry? If trade discipline leads to stable prices at the wholesale level and stable import growth but does not prevent the further serious deterioration of economic conditions for shrimp fishermen, then something has gone seriously wrong.

Analysis of prices over the last five years indicates that increases in prices for domestic shrimp at the wholesale level have not been generally reflected at the dock level, while declines in prices for domestic shrimp at the wholesale level are matched with substantially more severe declines in prices at the dock. Thus, when prices go up, the price increase and benefit is captured at the wholesale level but when prices go down, prices are pushed down at the dock level.

At the same time, the vast majority of the antidumping duties collected on shrimp imports have been distributed to companies operating at the wholesale level. Shrimp producers have received only about 20 cents of every dollar of shrimp antidumping duties distributed. For many shrimp fishermen, the cold reality of the system is demonstrated by the receipt of checks for tens or hundreds of dollars with the knowledge that others in the industry have received millions of dollars.

The fact that antidumping duties – distributed pursuant to the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA) – accrue largely to the benefit of shrimp purchasers does not, on its own, raise concerns. If, to name but two obvious examples, these funds were used to invest in a significant marketing campaign designed to obtain premium prices for domestic wild-caught shrimp or were broadly used to cushion the impact of falling wholesale prices on shrimp fishermen, an argument could be plausibly made that the entire industry has benefitted from the CDSOA program. But these funds have not been used for any such purposes; marketing initiatives for domestic shrimp have languished without significant financial support from shrimp processors and dock prices have fallen far more significantly than wholesale shrimp prices over the last year.

The small segment of the industry that has inordinately benefitted from the trade relief has shown little to no interest in the health and welfare of the remainder of the industry. In response, the SSA has actively pursued any and all options to obtain an equitable distribution of the benefits of trade relief.

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