Commerce Stops Using $0.21/Hour Wage Rate to Calculate Dumping Margins

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce, under respectful protest, submitted a final remand determination to the Court of International Trade amending the calculation of antidumping duties on Vietnamese shrimp imported into the U.S. between February 2009 and January 2010. As a nonmarket economy, antidumping duties are calculated for Vietnamese imports based on surrogate values obtained from other comparable market economies. To value the cost of labor, Commerce has utilized wage rates from Bangladesh. These wage rates are absurdly low and, for the 09-10 administrative review were pegged at twenty-one (21) cents an hour.

The Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee appealed Commerce’s determination. In response to the suit, the Court has twice asked Commerce to justify its use of Bangladeshi labor wage rates. In the remand results filed with the Court yesterday, Commerce dropped the twenty-one cent an hour rate and instead values labor used an hourly rate nearly four times higher based on the calculated average wage rates in Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. As a result of the change in surrogate values, the antidumping duties calculated for Camimex increased by fifty percent from 0.8% to 1.2%, for the Minh Phu Group from 1.15% to 1.36%, and for the separate rate companies from 1.03% to 1.28%.

The Court must now decide whether to accept Commerce’s new remand results. If the remand determination is affirmed, the agency will have the option of appealing the Court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Commerce’s action once again draws attention to the horrible labor conditions that pervade throughout the Bangladeshi shrimp industry. Wage rates of twenty-one cents an hour are massively out of line with anything in competing countries and do not begin to an approach a living wage, even in Bangladesh. Labor abuses in the Bangladeshi shrimp industry have been carefully documented by numerous third-party non-governmental organizations. Nevertheless, shrimp imports from Bangladesh into the United States have significantly increased compared to last year – through September, the total volume of Bangladeshi shrimp imports is nearly ten percent higher compared to the first nine months of 2012.

We are aware of no evidence of significant improvements regarding labor conditions in the Bangladeshi shrimp industry. Thus, Bangladesh appears to offer one thing of importance: cheap shrimp. And cheap shrimp, whatever the cost

to others, seems to always be in demand.

Yesterday’s Commerce Determination is available here:

Review SSA’s report Know Your Supplier: Labor Abuses in Bangladesh’s Farmed Shrimp Industry here:

Read about third-party investigations of conditions for labor in Bangladesh’s shrimp industry here:

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