Landrieu Announces Funding to Strengthen Seafood, Maritime Tariff Enforcement
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate today approved $5 million for antidumping efforts as part of the FY12 Homeland Security Appropriations bill authored by United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. The funding passed the Senate today as part of the year-end Consolidated Appropriations Act. It now goes to the president to be signed into law.
The money will go to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to create an antidumping and trade enforcement initiative, which aims to toughen duty collections, stop duplicitous importers and improve communication with the Commerce Department. The funds will allow for strengthened administrative efforts, as well as increases in staff and investigations into companies that may be dumping.
“This funding will allow our agencies to put an end to unfair dumping by foreign importers, allowing our small businesses to compete on a level playing field with foreign companies,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Without this initiative, our Gulf seafood and maritime industries will remain vulnerable to unfair competitors, and that has to stop. We cannot allow billions of dollars to go uncollected from these imports; that money should be used in our effort to protect American jobs and close the budget gap.”
In May, Sen. Landrieu held a hearing to examine the inability of CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to collect antidumping tariffs and enforce the Jones Act intended to protect jobs and businesses in Louisiana’s seafood and maritime industries.
According to CBP’s own statistics, it has failed to collect more than $1.04 billion in antidumping duties since 2001. Illegal imported shrimp from China have accounted for more than $58 million in antidumping duties since 2005. Companies often avoid paying duties by evading law enforcement, using shell companies, shipping via other countries to the United States or misclassifying products.
The Louisiana shrimp industry contributes more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy and supports 5,000 active shrimpers and thousands of other individuals indirectly employed by the industry. The Gulf Coast shrimp industry has been triple-hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Gustav and Ike in 2008 and then the BP Oil Spill in April 2010.