Vietnam opposes US's punitive tariff on its shrimp

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The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers has slammed the decision by the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to impose a new, additional tariff on Vietnamese shrimp, saying it is unfair and needs to be reconsidered.

The DOC on August 12 announced the new tax on shrimp imported from Vietnam to offset what it claimed was financial support from the Vietnamese government for shrimp companies.

Vietnamese shrimp, already slapped with an anti-dumping tax of up to 26 percent, will now attract an extra tax of 4.52 percent.

But Minh Quy Seafood Co. Ltd, based in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau will have to pay 7.88 percent and the Nha Trang Seafood Corp, 1.15 percent.

VASEP denied that shrimp firms get financial support from the government, and said the "unfair" decision would have an adverse impact on the lives of 600,000 shrimp farmers.

The DOC needs to reconsider the case and make a more "judicious and reasonable" decision, the association said.

Late last year the US Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries, representing shrimp fishermen and processors in several states in southern US, filed a petition asking their government to raise tariffs on shrimp imported from seven countries including Vietnam.

The group claimed that shrimp producers in Vietnam get financial subsidies from their government and sell shrimp at low prices to the US, causing the domestic industry huge losses.

The DOC launched an investigation this year to find out if Vietnamese shrimp exporters are indeed subsidized by the government.

It concluded in May that they get a subsidy of up to 7.05 percent.

VASEP rejected this and urged the US agency to reconsider, saying it is impossible for Vietnamese shrimp firms to receive any help from their government.

It also hired a foreign lawyer to handle the case.

China, Malaysia, India, and Ecuador also have to pay anti-dumping tariffs while Thailand and Indonesia successfully argued the case.

Reuters reported that the seven countries together exported nearly $3.4 billion worth shrimp to the US last year, "making it one of the biggest cases in the department's history."

Vietnam's share was $426 million while Thailand topped with $1.1 billion.

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