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Cablegate: Shrimp: Thai Government and Industry Cautious

VZCZCXRO3305
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #3211/01 2981131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241131Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4822
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 5314
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI IMMEDIATE 5754
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2072
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHFJUSC/CUSTOMS WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 003211

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, EEB/TPP/MTA
STATE PASS TO USTR (WEISEL/BISBEE)
COMMERCE FOR EAP/MAC/OKSA (KELLY/PHO)
GENEVA FOR USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIS ETRD WTO TH
SUBJECT: SHRIMP: THAI GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY CAUTIOUS
ABOUT PROPOSED ANTI-DUMPING SETTLEMENT

REF: A. E-MAIL 10/16/2008 FULLERTON/BISBEE/KELLY/KOCH
B. BANGKOK 2999 (CONCERNS ABOUT CONTINUOUS BONDS)
C. 06 BANGKOK 3425 (THAI SHRIMPERS MAKE PAYOFFS)
D. 06 BANGKOK 1428 (THAI SHRIMPERS PROTEST
CONTINUOUS BONDS)
E. 05 BANGKOK 7523 (THAIS TAKE US TO WTO)
F. 05 BANGKOK 6693 (THAIS PRESS TO LIFT US SHRIMP
TARIFFS)
G. 05 BANGKOK 4311 (BOND REQUIREMENTS ADVERSELY
AFFECT SHRIMP EXPORTERS)

BANGKOK 00003211 001.2 OF 004


1. This message is Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) and is
not intended for use outside the U.S. Government.

2. (SBU) Summary: Thailand continues to be anxious about the
USG's implementation of the August 1 World Trade Organization
(WTO) Appellate Body decision on anti-dumping duties and
continuous bonds placed on warmwater shrimp imports from
Thailand. The Thai shrimp industry, which has been
considering a private settlement with the U.S. industry on
the anti-dumping order, now views the WTO ruling as another
potential -- and possibly better -- avenue to resolve the
exporters' concerns about the continued use of 100 percent
bonds and the liquidation of past anti-dumping duties. Thai
shrimp industry representatives tell us that in the proposed
agreement with U.S. industry several key issues -- most
importantly, the amount of the monetary settlement -- remain
unresolved. The Thai Ministry of Commerce, while aware of
the ongoing industry settlement discussions, continues to
push for immediate USG compliance with the WTO decision and
stresses that any implementation schedule that stretches
beyond February 2009 will be unacceptable to Thailand. End
Summary.

3. (U) Background: According to this Embassy's understanding,
in 2003, representatives of the U.S. shrimp industry became
increasingly concerned about what they believed to be unfair
pricing practices for warmwater shrimp exported from six
countries, including Thailand. These elements of the U.S.
shrimp industry filed anti-dumping petitions with the
International Trade Commission on December 31, 2003. After
the completion of a dumping investigation, the Department of
Commerce ordered anti-dumping duties be imposed on shrimp
imports from these six countries. The duties for Thailand
currently range from 2.44 percent to 57.64 percent.

4. (SBU) In addition to the anti-dumping measures, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) imposed an additional
bond requirement that the importers of record post a secured,
continuous bond for the full value of the previous year's
anti-dumping duties. Previously, importers were required to
maintain a minimum bond valued at 10 percent of the duties,
taxes, and fees paid in the previous year. Thailand and
India challenged the U.S. at the WTO on both the anti-dumping
duties, as well as the use of continuous bonds. The WTO
initial and appellate review panels found that the CBP's
additional bond directive breached the WTO Anti-Dumping
Agreement, as the additional bonds did not constitute
"reasonable security." The WTO also ruled against the
Department of Commerce's use of "zeroing," a method used to
calculate anti-dumping duties. (Note: Zeroing means that
when sales prices in the U.S. are higher than market values
in the exporting country, and no dumping has taken place, the
Department of Commerce "zeroes" (eliminates) these sales out,
rather than averaging them into (and thereby lowering) the
dumping calculations. End Note.) In September 2008, the USG
asked for a "reasonable period of time" to comply with the
WTO decision. Meanwhile, the Thai export shrimp industry has
been in negotiations with elements of the U.S. shrimp
industry since 2006 on a private settlement to reduce (and
eventually eliminate) the anti-dumping duties and the
continuous bond requirements as well. End Background.

Thai Industry Cautious About Settlement
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Thai export shrimp industry, represented by the
Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA), has been in
negotiations with the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), a U.S.

BANGKOK 00003211 002.2 OF 004


trade association representing shrimp fisherman and
processors throughout the southern United States, in hopes of
eliminating the anti-dumping duties on warmwater shrimp from
Thailand, and until such time that the duties are eliminated,
reduce the rate of the continuous bond requirement. Earlier
this year, SSA and TFFA, Thailand's largest seafood
processing trade association, reached an "agreement in
principle" in which the U.S. industry would support the
removal of the anti-dumping order on shrimp from Thailand, as
well as the termination of the continuous bond requirements
by U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- in exchange for the
Thai industry's compliance with U.S. food safety and labor
laws and a monetary settlement from the Thai exporters to
provide "adjustment assistance" to the U.S. industry.

6. (SBU) Dr. Panisuan Jamnarnwej (please protect), a senior
advisor and director at TFFA, conveyed caution rather than
optimism about the proposed "agreement in principle" with the
U.S. industry, in a conversation with Econoff on October 16.
He emphasized that neither SSA or TFFA have agreed on the
most critical component of a settlement -- the amount of the
payment from the Thai shrimp industry to the U.S. domestic
industry. Dr. Panisuan, who is also the Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer of Pakfood Public Company, one of the
largest Thai exporters of shrimp to the United States, told
us that the suggested settlement figures still vary widely
between the two sides.

7. (SBU) Panisuan stated that SSA has been forward-looking
when calculating how much a settlement is worth, attempting
to determine how much the settlement would save the Thai
exporters in the future, assuming the continuous bonds remain
in place. The TFFA members, on the other hand, are
calculating the proposed settlement's value based on the
liquidation of previous continuous bonds and anti-dumping
refunds from US Customs on overpaid duties. TFFA initially
discussed a settlement rate of approximately $60 million,
according to Panisuan. However, since the anti-dumping
duties were reduced by nearly one-half after the Department
of Commerce's second administrative review, the projected
value of a settlement to TFFA proportionally decreased as
well. When the anti-dumping rates were higher, Panisuan
noted that a majority of TFFA member companies had supported
the $60 million figure; however, the revised anti-dumping
rates, as well as the recent WTO appellate body decision,
weakened the consensus among TFFA members. Panisuan added,"
Why should we pay the SSA when we can just wait for the
Department of Commerce to take action on the WTO ruling?"

8. (SBU) Panisuan added that the TFFA executives were also
surprised to learn that SSA had already approached the USG
about the "agreement in principle." He said that TFFA had
hoped the two sides would first agree on the settlement price
tag before approaching their respective governments about the
deal. Panisuan also expressed concerns that SSA does not
represent a majority of the U.S. industry and that any
agreement reached with SSA would be at risk without support
of other U.S. industry groups, most notably the Louisiana
Shrimp Alliance. (Note: Panisuan also mentioned a third
group of American shrimp processors that is interested in
SSA's proposed agreement, potentially increasing U.S.
industry's ultimate needs for adjustment assistance. End
Note.)

Government Not Opposed - But Not Advocating Either
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (SBU) Duangporn Rodphaya, Deputy Director-General of the
Department of Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Commerce, told
Econoff on October 16 that the Thai government's primary
concern remains the USG's implementation of the WTO ruling,
not the proposed private settlement between the two industry
associations. Duangporn acknowledged the Ministry of
Commerce's limited familiarity with the specifics of the
negotiations between the Southern Shrimp Alliance and the
Thai Frozen Foods Association but said that the Department of
Foreign Trade recently wrote to the Thai Frozen Foods
Association to obtain more details on the proposed settlement
and to determine how such an agreement may affect USG

BANGKOK 00003211 003.2 OF 004


implementation of the WTO ruling. The Association has not
yet responded.

10. (SBU) Deputy Director-General Duangporn emphasized the
importance of the USG compliance with the WTO ruling on
continuous bonds and the use of zeroing. She stressed that
any proposed "reasonable period of time" by the USG that
stretches beyond February 2009 will be unacceptable to the
Thai Government. Duangporn emphasized, as had the
Director-General on October 2 (ref B), that Thailand would
have no choice but to return to the WTO to seek immediate
arbitration if the USG does not comply with the WTO decision
as soon as possible.

11. (SBU) When informally asked about her impressions of the
proposed industry anti-dumping settlement, Duangporn added
that she believed the current global financial crisis could
affect the private settlement discussions. She expressed
some skepticism that the Thai shrimp industry would be
willing to pay tens of millions of dollars for a settlement
when the effects of the U.S. financial crisis on the Thai
export market remain unknown. Most Thai and foreign
economists in Bangkok predict that the next year, at least,
will be tough for Thai exporters in all sectors.

Settlement Complications
------------------------

12. (SBU) Thai industry sources told us that the history of
the issue also makes Thai companies hesitant to rush to a
settlement. Prior to the Department of Commerce's first
administrative review of the anti-dumping duties in 2006,
many individual member companies of TFFA agreed to
confidential settlements with SSA, exchanging a portion of
their export revenues (reportedly between one and two
percent) for US industry assurances that the Thai companies
would be removed from the review process and that
anti-dumping duties would not be raised in the future (ref
C). During the Department of Commerce's first administrative
review, the overall anti-dumping rate was lowered for the
Thai exporters who had reached a settlement with SSA.
Because of the successful reduction, nearly all of TFFA's
member companies were then willing to negotiate additional
settlements prior to the Department of Commerce's next
administrative review.

13. (SBU) According to TFFA contacts, during the period
between the first and second administrative reviews,
attorneys from SSA approached executives at TFFA about an
industry-wide agreement and settlement to withdraw the
anti-dumping order entirely, rather than negotiating
individual settlements. However, unexpectedly, another U.S.
industry group, the Louisiana Shrimp Alliance (LSA),
separately resubmitted the complete list of 147 Thai shrimp
exporters for administrative review. With multiple US
industry associations involved, Thai shrimp exporters became
increasingly concerned that any exclusive agreement or
settlement reached with the SSA could be ineffectual if LSA
continued to seek anti-dumping duties on Thai shrimp.

14. (SBU) Following the second administrative review, the
Department of Commerce again lowered the average anti-dumping
rate for the major Thai exporters. Dr. Panisuan at TFFA
suggested that this second rate reduction significantly
decreased the incentive for TFFA member companies to settle
with SSA. While the Thai exporters would prefer that the
anti-dumping duties not be imposed at all, the revised rates
are more acceptable to TFFA's members, and therefore, the
exporters are now less willing to pay for a settlement.
Panisuan also added that the ongoing appeals of earlier
Department of Commerce anti-dumping determinations by several
Thai companies (Thai I-Mei Frozen Foods, Rubicon Group, Thai
Union) complicates the private settlement discussions with
SSA, too, as these companies are less willing to negotiate
until their individual appeals have been finalized at the
U.S. International Trade Court.

Comment
-------

BANGKOK 00003211 004.2 OF 004

15. (SBU) The August 1 WTO Appellate Body decision added a
new layer of complexity to the anti-dumping settlement
discussions between the US and Thai shrimp industries. Both
government and business now believe that any private
settlement or agreement cannot be made in a vacuum, without
regard for the WTO ruling. Our Thai government and shrimp
industry contacts seem less than optimistic about the private
settlement option. The Thai appear prepared to wait to see
how the USG handles the WTO Appellate Body decision on
zeroing and continuous bonds before moving forward with a
privately-negotiated settlement.

JOHN

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