WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) raised concerns about shrimp dumping practices from India and Mexico’s discrimination against U.S. energy producers at a Senate Finance Committee hearing with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai. He continues to be an advocate for Louisiana shrimpers and energy producers.
Cassidy explained that Indian shrimp, which is heavily subsidized by their government, routinely fails to meet the phytosanitary standards imposed by the European Union so it is then dumped on the U.S. market, which drives down prices and hurts domestic producers in Louisiana. He asked Ambassador Tai to explain the actions USTR is taking to address the dumping of Indian shrimp in U.S. markets.
“We’re getting stuff that doesn’t pass European phytosanitary standards, that’s subsidized, that’s dumped into our market, and my shrimpers are hurting—upon many other problems that they’ve had in recent years. In the past, you’ve mentioned you’ve raised this, but it still seems to be an issue. Can you speak to what USTR is doing?” asked Dr. Cassidy.
“We continue to raise this concern with India. On this, what I would say is I will commit to you that I will continue to raise our concerns and that I will also work with you as closely as I can to continue to try to find ways to tap the potential in the U.S.-India relationship, including around some of these thorny agricultural barriers that we face,” said Ambassador Tai.
Cassidy floated the idea of imposing a tariff on the shrimp coming from India.
“There’s nothing like a tariff to suddenly dislodge a barrier. Is it time to review the tariff schedule on the shrimp that’s coming from India and why don’t we?” continued Dr. Cassidy.
“I will take that as a suggestion and a request,” responded Ambassador Tai.
He then turned to a discussion on Mexico’s protectionist and discriminatory energy policies, which seem to violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“Mexico under USMCA [is] supposed to be treating our energy producers similarly to their domestic [producers]. It’s clearly not happening with specific incidences where the Mexican government is clearly discriminating against our energy producers. Can you address those issues and how we’re trying to get the Mexican government to live up not only to the spirit but the actual letter of USMCA?” asked Dr. Cassidy.
“This is a really important issue for our economy, and it’s also a really important challenge that we have in our relationship with Mexico, which is long-standing and close,” responded Ambassador Tai. “We are engaging with Mexico on specific and concrete steps that Mexico must take to address the concerns set out in our consultations request. In addition, we also expect ongoing monitoring and discussions between the U.S. and Mexico on these issues. This is still very much a live issue.”
Cassidy continued to press the issue inquiring about existing tools and leverage to combat Mexico’s actions and put U.S. energy producers on a level playing field.
“What do we have to leverage their cooperation? They seem to have a kind of nationalistic viewpoint in which they’re willing to sacrifice efficiency and tolerate corruption in order to have the pride of owning their own business. That seems to be an ideological viewpoint in which case it seems like it has to move beyond their apparent self-interest into something which is living up to the letter of the law,” explained Dr. Cassidy.
“Let me just say that all sounds right to me. We know that all of the tools in the USMCA are there for a reason,” agreed Ambassador Tai.
The conversation ended with a reference to the meeting yesterday between Cassidy and Ambassador Tai where they discussed new approaches to rebalance the trading relationship with China. They specifically focused on China’s disregard of baseline environmental rules.
“[China is] polluting the international commons with pollutants flying over into Oregon and other West Coast states but lowering their costs of manufacturing, [which] incentiviz[es] our manufacturing to move [and] hurting our workers,” said Dr. Cassidy.
In response Ambassador Tai praised Cassidy’s work on a foreign pollution fee to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their lack of environmental regulations and use of slave labor. She also committed to working together on such a policy.
“I know that you are a leading thinker on economic policies and tools that we could bring to bear. I am very interested in continuing to work with you on those items in terms of the way that you see the competition, and the way that you think about how we need to move beyond past practices and tools and to evolve and bring about new ones,” said Ambassador Tai.