ITC RULES THAT IMPORTS DAMAGED DOMESTIC CATFISH INDUSTRY
"WASHINGTON, D.C. - " The International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously determined Thursday that there is a reasonable indication that the U.S. catfish industry has been materially injured or is threatened with material injury due to imports of frozen basa and tra fillets from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair market value. As a result of the determination by the five commissioners of the ITC, the Department of Commerce will continue to conduct its anti-dumping investigation of imports from Vietnam, and will release its preliminary determination on or about Dec. 5, 2002.
In June of this year, the Alabama Farmers Federation supported the Catfish Farmers of America and some domestic catfish processors who filed an anti-dumping petition with the ITC and the Department of Commerce seeking relief from unfairly traded frozen of basa and tra fish fillets from Vietnam. The petition alleged that the Vietnamese imports were being sold at below fair market value, and caused material damage to the domestic catfish industry.
Vietnamese imports of frozen basa and tra fillets have increased exponentially in recent years in spite of continued low prices. For instance, Vietnam exported to the U.S. in 1999 less than 2 million pounds of frozen fillets categorized as "catfish" and by 2001, that figure had increased to over 17 million pounds of frozen fillets. More than 3 million pounds were imported as "catfish" in the first four months of this year.
"Producers and processors participated in surveys to validate the economic damage caused by these imports that were often passed off as farm-raised catfish," said Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division. "The determination by the ITC is the first step in a series of actions that could eventually cause tariffs and quotas to be placed on these unfair imports."
Keith Gray, director of National Affairs for the Alabama Farmers Federation, said the Alabama congressional delegation has been very supportive of the Alabama catfish industry's efforts to try and address these imports from Vietnam.
"In particular, Sen. Jeff Sessions spoke on the Senate floor in support of the legislation contained in the recently passed farm bill that would preserve the identity of the North American catfish for retail sale," Gray said. "Sen. Sessions also submitted supporting testimony to the ITC in support of the petition for anti-dumping."