Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce published the Final Results of the eighth administrative review of the antidumping duty order on certain frozen warmwater shrimp from the People’s Republic of China, covering imports between February 2012 and January 2013. Commerce assigned an antidumping duty rate of 112.81% to both shrimp exporters it reviewed – Hilltop International and Zhanjiang Newpro Foods, Ltd. – based on their lack of cooperation. This outcome resulted from longstanding efforts by the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee (AHSTAC), an association of domestic shrimp producers represented by PKR, to ensure accountability for impropriety with respect to the AD order on shrimp from China.
Commerce assigned Hilltop the 112.81% rate for the fifth consecutive review, based on a March 2012 submission by AHSTAC suggesting that shrimp was transshipped through Cambodia. Hilltop eventually acknowledged concealing the existence of its Cambodian affiliate, while refusing to answer Commerce inquiries regarding duty evasion. Commerce’s assignment of the 112.81% rate was affirmed by the U.S. Court of International Trade in July 2014, and Hilltop is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Commerce estimates that Hilltop has duty liability in excess of $100 million as a result of this concern raised by AHSTAC. Newpro, a Chinese shrimp exporter reviewed for the first time, ceased participating after AHSTAC brought reporting irregularities to Commerce’s attention. While the details are proprietary, Commerce responded to AHSTAC by asking Newpro for documents that should have been retained in the normal course of business. Rather than comply, Newpro suspiciously withdrew from the proceeding – leading Commerce to conclude that the respondent provided misleading or incorrect information. In addition to assigning Newpro the 112.81% rate, Commerce adjusted the assessment calculation to account for complete duty liability.
Commerce’s responses to both Hilltop and Newpro demonstrate the agency’s commitment to enforcing the antidumping duty order on shrimp from China, as well as its unwillingness to tolerate false and misleading representations. These actions protect the integrity of Commerce’s administration of U.S. trade laws.