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October 16, 2015

United States/Vietnam

Florida—Southern Shrimp Alliance Sues Department of Commerce on Dumping Duties

 

On October 8, 2015, the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, which represents domestic shrimp producers, sued the USA Department of Commerce (DOC) over its recent review of antidumping duties on shrimp imports from Vietnam, saying the International Trade Administration (ITA), an agency of DOC, relied on aberrational information from Bangladesh in its investigation.

 

The Ad Hoc Committee is appealing to the USA Court of International Trade about a final determination issued by the ITA on September 9, 2015, in a review of a dumping order covering Vietnam’s exports from February 2013 to January 2014.

 

During the review, the ITA used a surrogate country to determine the valuation for the labor factor of production (FOP).  The department relied solely on Bangladeshi wage data to arrive at its results, basing its decision, in part, on the fact that it was consistent with its practices in previous administrative reviews of the same antidumping duties.

 

But the Ad Hoc Committee says Commerce ignored evidence it had presented that the Bangladeshi wage data was aberrational because of rampant and widespread abuse of worker rights in the country.

 

In addition, the Committee said wage rates from Bangladesh are less reliable than those reported for other market countries that are at similar levels of economic development as Vietnam.

 

“The evidence establishing the aberrational nature of Bangladeshi wage data came from a variety of objective sources, including ‘news articles, NGO observers and the USA Trade Representative,’ in addition to ‘various other articles and reports from sources such as the AFL-CIO, an International Labor Organization report and the USA Department of Labor,’” according to the complaint.  “By using aberrational data to value the labor...Commerce violated its statutory directive to value each FOP with the ‘best available information’.”

 

The Committee alleges that Commerce failed to consider the “extensive” contrary evidence the Committee submitted into the record, making the final results unsupported by substantial evidence.

 

Commerce had said in its response to the committee’s evidence that it doesn’t address social conditions in any surrogate country as a criterion in the selection of a labor surrogate valuation, because doing so would introduce socio-economic factors that it’s not equipped to analyze.  But that refusal to consider such evidence isn’t reasonable and constituted an abuse of discretion, according to the suit.  Moreover, its finding that the Committee hadn’t supplied the “specific quantitative” evidence required to consider such factors is unreasonable and inconsistent with its normal practice, the committee said.

 

The Committee is asking the court to find Commerce’s final results of the investigation to be unsupported by the record and to send the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

 

The Government doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

 

Information: John Williams (john@shrimpalliance.com) and Deborah Long (deborah@cohesivecommunications.com), Southern Shrimp Alliance, P.O. Box 1577, Tarpon Springs, Florida 34688, USA (phone 1-727-934-5090, fax 1-727-934-5362, email info@shrimpalliance.co, webpage http://www.shrimpalliance.com/new).

 

Source: Law360. ITA’s Vietnamese Shrimp Probe Challenged by Domestic Cos.  Caroline Simson.  Editing by Aaron Pelc.  October 8, 2015.  Information on Subscriptions to Law360: Customer Service, Legal News and Data, 860 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, New York 10003, United States (phone 1-646-783-7196, fax 1-646-783-7161, email customerservice@law360.com, webpage http://www.law360.com).

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