Chinese shrimp produces were given the harshest tariffs, with rates ranging from 8 to 112 per cent for both canned and frozen products. However, many US shrimp players said that they thought the tariffs were too light. Indeed the Southern Shrimp Alliance had asked for tariffs of between 133 and 263 per cent for Chinese producers and between 26 and 93 per cent for Vietnamese producers.
The US Commerce Department set tariffs ofbetween 12 and 20 per cent on Vietnamese shrimp consignments after US courts came to the conclusion that, as with Chinese producers, they were selling their shrimp on to the market at artificially low prices. The decision will come as a significant blow to the country's industry, which in recent years has grown into a multi billion dollar operation. Indeed exports to the US alone were estimated to be worth $588 million.
The ruling is the culmination of a lawsuit launched by US shrimp producers back in January, which alleged that both China and Vietnam were dumping artificially cheap products on the US market place.
A Bloomberg report said that the Vietnamese government had rejected the Commerce Department's findings. The government defended its shrimp farmers by saying that favourable, natural conditions along the Vietnamese coast line combined with cost reducing technologies and lower labour costs had all contributed towards making Vietnamese shrimp products amongst the cheapest in the world.
"Vietnam hopes that the US Department of Commerce will reconsider this decision with an objective and fair approach," Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said at a press conference today in Hanoi. "This will not only contribute to promoting Vietnam-U.S. economic and trade ties but will also safeguard the legitimate interests of the U.S. consumers and shrimp importers and distributors."
Shrimp is a highly popular food in the US, with the industry currently valued at $3.5 billion a year. In the southern states of America, shrimp farming is big industry, but in recent years the industry has been hard hit by cheap Asian imports, mainly from Vietnam and China.
Chinese and Vietnamese farmers have said that the tariffs are unfair and prohibitive. Trade officials in Beijing and Hanoi have accused the US of protecting its domestic market and going against the spirit of fair competition and trade liberalization, in turn vowing to fight the ruling.