WASHINGTON — Use of a new accounting method that has caused a decrease in a duty on salmon from Norway and unfair competition for Maine industry has drawn protests from three of Maine’s congressional delegation.
Sens. William S. Cohen and George J. Mitchell, and Rep. Olympia J. Snowe have asked Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to reconsider use of the accounting method.
Cohen, Mitchell and Snowe charged in a letter to Brown that the method, which was proposed by a major Norwegian salmon exporter, has caused the duty to fall from more than 15 percent to about 5 percent.
“We strongly believe that this new methodology is flawed and will have disastrous consequences for the Maine industry,” the delegation members wrote. “In August alone, the first month after the department’s adoption of the method, salmon imports from Norway quadrupled.”
Maine’s salmon industry, the three said, has been fighting Norwegian dumping of unfairly subsidized salmon into the United States for nearly four years.
The congressmen won a trade case against the Norwegians in 1991, based on Norway’s overproduction of salmon. Then, the Norwegians claimed overproduction was unusual and that annual production would not exceed 120,000 metric tons.
The Norwegian claim has proved untrue, the delegation said, and Norway is projecting massive salmon harvests in 1993 and 1994 of 180,000 and 220,000 metric tons, respectively.
“Appropriate anti-dumping duties represent the Maine industry’s only hope to combat Norwegian salmon dumping,” they said.