US to investigate Vietnam ‘shrimp king’ for anti-dumping tax evasion

By Hong Chau   June 8, 2019 | 10:44 pm PT
US to investigate Vietnam ‘shrimp king’ for anti-dumping tax evasion
Minh Phu accounts for approximately 20 percent of Vietnam's total shrimp exports last year. Photo acquired by VnExpress.
Minh Phu Seafood JSC, one of Vietnam’s biggest shrimp processors, is suspected of selling imported Indian shrimp to evade anti-dumping tariffs.

On May 12, Illinois representative Darin LaHood said he had received an email petition accusing Minh Phu of evading anti-dumping duties on Indian shrimp in the U.S.

The email alleged that Minh Phu bought a large amount of frozen shrimp from India, processed them at a "minimum" level in Vietnam, and then went on to sell them through a subsidiary to the U.S. as a Vietnamese product.

"Based on the above information, I request the US Customs and Border Protection Department (CBP) to investigate whether a US importer and related companies in Vietnam have evaded anti-dumping taxes on shrimp from India or not," LaHood wrote in a letter to Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

He also suggested that the agency labelled the goods as such if it is found that they had indeed evaded tax.

Speaking to local press, Minh Phu said it has not yet received any information or request from the CBP or any U.S. Government agency about the allegation. Currently, Minh Phu still exports shrimps to the U.S. through normal customs procedures.

It said the Rep. LaHood’s request is based on a one-sided allegation with no evidence. "It is not a formal decision or conclusion of a state agency."

However, Minh Phu admitted that 10 percent of its shrimp inputs is imported from India for production. This is to supplement shortages of Vietnamese shrimp from time to time, stabilize the work and income for its workers when shrimp is out of season.

A Minh Phu representative said that not only in the field of seafood processing, imports to supplement a shortage of domestic raw materials is normal, a popular practice and does not violate the law of any country.

The company said that since 2004, it  has spent more than 10 years participating in anti-dumping investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and has always been evaluated as cooperating fully and having a detailed database on its products that is accepted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The firm, which accounted for approximately 20 percent of Vietnam's total shrimp exports last year, also noted that its shrimp exports to the U.S. has been declining. In the first quarter, shrimp exported to the US only reached about 33 percent of the company’s total export volume, down from 41 percent in 2015. 

This decline is the result of Minh Phu not focusing on U.S market expansion, but diversifying its export markets, the firm added.

According to Darin LaHood, the DOC began applying anti-dumping duties on frozen shrimp from Vietnam, India and other countries in 2005. However, in July 2016, they revoked these obligations for Minh Phu. The company no longer has to provide production information, and is not subject to annual inspection visits by DOC officials.

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