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Sep 29, 2003

U.S. shrimpers petition against cheap imports

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We reported last week that Belizean shrimp exports have been given the green light to enter the European Union…and it may be just in time. Reports from the U.S.A. are that shrimp producers from eight southern states have banded together to fight what they claim are unfair trade practices by ten shrimp exporting countries. The Southern Shrimp Alliance is petitioning the U.S. government to take action against Thailand, India, China, Vietnam, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Venezuela and Guyana. The American shrimp trawlers content that these countries, each of which account for over three percent of U.S. shrimp imports, are engaged in dumping–that is selling their shrimp below the cost of production. While Belize was not named in the S.S.A.’s resolution, it is believed that a successful petition would also extend to our shrimp exports, expected to approach one hundred million Belize dollars this year. The U.S. shrimp industry, based on trawling in the Gulf of Mexico, has been hit hard by cheaper imports, particularly from shrimp farms in Southeast Asia where labour costs are much lower. In 2001 shrimp overtook tuna as America’s most popular seafood, largely on the strength of lower world prices. The action by U.S. shrimp producers is expected to be vigorously opposed by that country’s importers and large restaurant chains like Red Lobster, which have prospered on the basis of low cost high quality seafood from abroad.

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