Seafood exporters to challenge imposition of US customs bonds

Kochi, March 21 | Updated: Mar 22 2005, 05:30am hrs
Seafood exporters are all set to move the Court of International Trade against the US non-tariff barrier imposed on shrimp exports in the form of customs bonds.

Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) national president AJ Tharakan told FE that a US-based law firm has been appointed to file an appeal before the New York-based court very soon. All documentation in this regard was nearly complete, he added.

With the imposition of 10.35% anti-dumping duty on Indian shrimps by the US, exporters had to, besides paying the duty, also furnish bonds to the tune of 10%, the full value of duty on a years exports. Though the International Trade Committee was considering a review of the duty in the backdrop of the tsunami disaster, the US customs was insisting on supplementing this duty with a customs bond. On an average, exporting houses in the country would have to furnish bonds between $0.5 million and $5 million, Tharakan said.

As the payment period was for three years, the companies would have to take bonds on a yearly basis to be redeemed after three years. This would simply mean that each of the exporting companies would have two to three bonds running concurrently.

Mr Tharakan said that exporters were delivering goods on a duty-paid basis and the bond requirement was tantamount to a non-tariff barrier.

The exporter could either take a bond in India with a US bank authenticating it. Or else, he could take the bond from a bonding company. In the case of the former, the exporter would have to give a collateral security which would be at least four times the value of the bond. The bond companies were asking for 100% margin for issuing the bonds.

In these circumstances, the association has decided to fight this out legally and would move the international court in a few days, Mr Tharakan added.