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Trade minister asks US not to be ‘unfair’

Viet Nam has urged the US not to go ahead with a proposed change to its methodology for calculating anti-dumping duties for exporters in non-market economies.

In a letter to US Secretary of Commerce Donald L Evans on Tuesday, Vietnamese Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen said that the change would unfairly penalise producers from non-market economies (NME), including Viet Nam.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC), which oversees the fixing of tariffs, announced recently a plan to scrap a provision allowing lower tariffs on respondents proving they do not receive subsidies. The DOC calls them Section A respondents.

Under the provision, all other companies belonging to same country as the Section A companies are slapped with higher tariffs, the so-called ‘country-wide’ rate.

Now, the DOC plans to scrap the Section A provision, meaning all exporters in an NME found price-dumping in the US will face a single anti-dumping tariff.

Tuyen said though he understood the DOC’s position when proposing those changes, he thought the proposals would not only frustrate its objectives of saving resources and improving the accuracy of NME anti-dumping determinations but also cause significant and undeserved harm to the large and growing number of independent enterprises in Viet Nam.

"There has been much progress in the trade relations between our countries. Since the ratification of the bilateral trade agreement, trade has increased tremendously. As you also realise, Viet Nam has implemented very significant and far-reaching economic reforms. Even the department recognises that the government of Viet Nam no longer legally controls private or even state-owned enterprises. Market forces determine businesses and wages in Viet Nam. Small and medium-sized businesses are flourishing."

In this generally positive and improving environment, he said he was perplexed by the DOC’s proposals to worsen its treatment of independent companies from Viet Nam in anti-dumping investigations. It conveyed the message that Viet Nam’s economic liberalisation has been counter-productive in terms of US anti-dumping proceedings.

But if the department was determined to institute the changes, the minister wanted it to exempt the ongoing shrimp-dumping investigation, involving 33 independent Vietnamese companies, from their scope. He pointed out that these companies have co-operated with the department’s investigation in good faith besides expending relatively scarce resources to provide the information it sought to qualify for an ‘all-others’ rate.

"I trust you recognise how unfair it would be to these companies to change your rules after all of their time, efforts and expense...," Tuyen said.

VNS - (07/06/2004)

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