U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) commented on a decision today from the Commerce Department regarding the need to protect Alabama's catfish industry from unfairly priced Vietnamese imports and non-market economies. Sessions organized a bipartisan letter to the Commerce Department to urge them to take action.
"Domestic production and fair value pricing are essential aspects of a sound economy. I am very encouraged by the findings of the Commerce Department's 8th Administrative Review. This decision is a step in the right direction to protect US workers and our catfish industry in Alabama. The dramatic catfish production decrease over the last decade can be directly attributed to unfairly priced imports, leaving our local catfish farms at risk. The Commerce Department's decision to use Indonesia as a surrogate country for Vietnam helps correct unfair competition and ensures that jobs and industry in our state are protected. By enforcing our nation's trade laws, and fostering an environment that requires healthy competition, I am confident that our local catfish farms will again be a market leader."
On February 7, Sessions organized a letter signed by Senate colleagues, Richard Shelby, Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker, Mark Pryor, John Boozman, David Vitter, and Mary Landrieu regarding the 8th Administrative review, from the Department of Commerce, determining "fair value" pricing for Vietnamese producers' frozen fish fillets. The Department of Commerce uses surrogate countries to determine the fair value of products for non-market economies. In previous reviews, the Department of Commerce has used Bangladeshi data to set the market price for the Vietnamese producers' fish fillets despite industry proposals for a surrogate nation with higher quality data available, such as the Philippines or Indonesia. The Bangladeshi prices range from $0.29/lb-$0.43/lb whereas the U.S. price is about $0.80/lb. The lower rates have had significant negative effects on the US market and this continued approach would bolster the volume of Vietnamese frozen fish fillets to the detriment of the United States industry.
Today, the Department of Commerce announced that Indonesia would be used as a surrogate country for Vietnam to best calculate the price per pound of frozen fish fillets. This decision helps ensure that Vietnamese production will be subjected to appropriate and reasonable standards and that domestic catfish producers will not be victims of unfair pricing.