The US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) ruled MSeafood Corporation, an affiliate of Vietnamese shrimp producer and exporter Minh Phu Seafood, avoided duties by trans-shipping Indian-origin frozen shrimp, claimed to be from Vietnam.

Consignments skirted around antidumping duties on Indian frozen warmwater shrimp.

An investigation began last year following a complaint submitted to CBP in July by the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Enforcement Committee (AHSTEC), a group composed of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the Texas Shrimp Association, the North Carolina Fisheries Association, the Georgia Shrimp Association, the South Carolina Shrimp Association, and various other industry members.

CBP highlighted the imposition of interim measures, meaning that any outstanding unsold MSeafood shrimp import would be adjusted “to reflect that they are subject to the [antidumping duty] order on frozen shrimp from India,” and to indicate that cash deposits will be owed.

CBP also stipulated that all shrimp imported by MSeafood from that point forward be subject to a cash deposit rate of 10.17 percent.

As part of the probe, CBP ruled Minh Phu Seafood was unable to provide bills of lading proving that shrimp exported to the US was not of Indian origin, allowing it to mix the product in with Vietnamese imports, Minh Phu CEO Le Van Quang, told IntraFish.

Although Minh Phu Seafood and MSeafood claimed that all Indian shrimp it processes in Vietnam has been sold to markets other than the United States, CBP concluded evidence indicated shrimp from both origins was inter-mixed and that Minh Phu’s internal production system did not permit reliable tracing of Indian shrimp from purchase to its final sale. CBP further noted that Minh Phu had intermixed products of different origins in the past.

As a result of the ruling, CBP will continue to treat MSeafood’s shrimp imports as subject to the antidumping duty order on Indian shrimp and will assess duties when instructed to do so by the US Department of Commerce.

MSeafood can seek an administrative review of the agency’s determination under the US Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) and ultimately file a law suit at the US Court of International Trade to object the CPB ruling.

Quang told IntraFish the CBP ruling came as "a bad surprise," claiming Minh Phu has fully cooperated with the CBP and provided what it describes as "sufficient evidence" to show that, apart from just 30 kilos of product, it has not exported Indian shrimp to the United States.

Quang added the company provided records showing segregation of imported frozen shrimp from local materials and tracing of imported materials to export products.

"Minh Phu believes that it is not fair for the CBP to make such findings only based on its outdated records -- more than five years old -- of commingling raw and frozen shrimp," said Quang, adding that CPB's requirement that MPG has to trace every single piece of imported shrimp from each bill of lading to specific shipments of exported shrimp was "not reasonable." "However, Minh Phu still believes in the US legal system and justice and it will appeal this decision," he said.