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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing: Chinese Seafood: Safety and Trade Issues," April 24-25, 2008

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on April 24-25, 2008. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
April 24, 2008

April 24-25, 2008
Pan American Conference and Media Center
Orleans Room – 11th Floor – Pan American Building
601 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Hearing co-Chairs: Vice Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew and Commissioner Daniel Slane

Opening Statement of Vice Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew

Good morning. My name is Carolyn Bartholomew. I am the vice chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. I am also one of the co-chairs of this particular hearing, along with Commissioner Daniel Slane, who you will hear from in a minute.

Each year, our Commission holds eight hearings to gather information for our annual report to Congress and at least one of those hearings is held outside the confines of Washington. We do this in order to hear first-hand the impact that Washington’s policies regarding China are having on the American economy and national security. Last year, we held a hearing in North Carolina on the effects that imports of Chinese furniture and clothing were having on that state’s economy. The year before, we held a hearing in Michigan to gauge the effects that imports of Chinese car and truck parts—many of them counterfeits-- were having on the parts industry in the Midwest. Today, we wish to hear about the effects that Chinese exports of seafood are having on the fishing and aquaculture industry of the Gulf Coast and on the health of consumers.

Our Commission was created by Congress in 2000 to monitor, among other things, China’s compliance with its international trade agreements. We report our findings to Congress along with our recommendations for legislative and funding changes. As many in this room know quite well, imports now account for a considerable majority—over 80 percent—of the seafood consumed by Americans. In 2007, $2 billion of that was from China, up from $600 million in 2000.

As many Americans have discovered to their dismay, Chinese producers have been having problems with their quality controls. The list of consumer products that have been tainted with dangerous chemicals or substandard ingredients, such as toys, medicines, pet food, and toothpaste, is already too long. You can add to that lengthening list imports of fish from China. Adulterated fish and China’s reluctance to admit to problems about its quality controls on its fish farms have led the federal Food and Drug Administration to impose an “Import Alert” on six categories of farmed-raised seafood from China. We will hear from the FDA how well this program is working.

The practice of dumping product on the U.S. market—essentially, selling it below the cost of production or below the cost in China—is also a matter of concern to the Commission. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent agency, have both approved penalty tariffs on crawfish and on shrimp in response to dumping. The Commission also intends to consider evidence during this hearing that the Chinese seafood industry, particularly its fish farms, receive large subsidies from the central and local governments in China.

Finally, I’d like to note that our next hearing, in Washington on May 20, will be on China’s weapons proliferation practices and the development of its cyber and space warfare capabilities. On June 18 and 19 in Washington, we will examine China’s media control and access to information in China as well as forced prison labor in China.

Now I’d like to introduce Daniel Slane, my colleague and co-chair.

Opening Statement of Commissioner Daniel Slane

Good morning and welcome to our hearing. I am very pleased to be back in New Orleans. I am also gratified to see that the determination of its citizens is reflected in the progress that has been made in restoring the Crescent City to its place among the world’s great and distinctive cities.

First, I must thank the office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu for the advice and logistical support provided our Commission. We are here in the Pan American building through the aid and wise counsel of the Senator’s staff. We appreciate that very much.

Before I introduce the first panel, I’d like to note how seriously we take the matter of compliance with health and safety regulations of the various federal agencies in charge of enforcement, testing, certification, and inspection of our imported food. We want to make sure that America’s health and safety laws and regulations are respected and that our regulatory agencies are supplied with sufficient authority and resources to protect consumers. Even now, Congress is debating how to meet the challenge of bringing our food safety system up to meet the challenge of globalization.

The Commission intends to participate in that debate and to bring back to Washington the lessons we have learned here. Certainly, we will benefit from seven panels of very knowledgeable witnesses, some of them quite expert in their fields. We will also welcome the comments of the public during out open microphone session beginning at 3:15 pm. Those wishing to speak are asked to register with the staff.

Finally, we welcome our witnesses and ask that each one speak not more that seven minutes to summarize the opening statements that many have already supplied. That will leave plenty of time for questions from the Commissioners to the witnesses. Their written statements will be made part of the Commission record and will be published on the Commission’s website, along with a transcript of this hearing and the eventual annual report, which we will deliver to Congress in November.

Opening Statement of Vice Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew
Opening Statement of Commissioner Daniel Slane

Health and Safety Issues Concerning Imported Chinese Seafood
Panel I:  Government Perspectives on Health/Safety of Seafood Imported from China

Mr. Donald W. Kraemer, Deputy Director, Office of Food Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA, Washington, DC
Mr. Spencer Garrett, Director, NOAA National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, Pascagoula, MS

Panel II:  Experts’ Perspectives on Health/Safety of Seafood Imported from China
Ms. Jean Halloran, Director, Food Policy Initiatives, Consumer Union, Yonkers, NY
Mr. Patrick Woodall, Policy Analyst, Food and Water Watch, Washington, DC

Panel III:  Seafood Industry’s Perspectives on Health/Safety of Seafood Imported from China
Ms. Kim Chauvin, Owner, Mariah Jade Shrimp Company, Chauvin, LA
Mr. Matt Fass, President, Maritime Products International, Newport News, VA

Panel IV:   Public Comment Period – Open Microphone

Perspectives of Federal, State, and Local Elected Officials on Health/Safety and Economic Implications of Chinese Seafood Imports for the United States
Panel V:  Views and Plans of Government Officials

Mr. Harlon H. Pearce, Jr., Chairman, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, New Orleans, LA
Senator David Vitter, LA (R)

Effects of Chinese Seafood Imports on the Louisiana and U.S. Economies
Panel VI:  The Effects of China’s Competition, Pricing, and Delivery Capability on the U.S. Seafood Industry

Mr. Steven Minvielle, Crawfish Farmer and Member of Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association, New Iberia, LA  
Mr. John Williams, President, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Tarpon Springs, FL
Dr. Carole Engle, Director, Aquaculture Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR

Panel VII:  China’s Adherence to Multilateral and Bilateral Trade Agreements in Supplying Seafood to the U.S. Market. Case Study.
Dr. Walter Keithly, Professor, Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Mr. Schuyler Porche, Doctoral Student, Louisiana State University, Dept. of Political Science, Baton Rouge, LA



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