January 27, 2012 / 8:10 AM / 7 years ago

U.S. drops penalty duty on Norwegian salmon

OSLO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The United States has dropped a steep penalty tariff on Norwegian salmon that has hindered imports from the world’s largest salmon-farming nation since 1991, when Norwegian firms were accused of “dumping” fish for less than it cost to produce.

The decision to rescind the penalty duty, which Norwegian officials said amounted to nearly 24 percent, was announced on Thursday by the United States International Trade Commission.

Norwegian fisheries minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, a salmon farmer herself, welcomed the decision to lift the tariff, which analysts said had applied only to whole fish rather than filleted or smoked.

“This case has fundamentally important business and trade policy aspects that have been important for us to clear up,” Berg-Hansen said in a statement. “The salmon industry is highly export-oriented and dependent on good, predictable trade conditions.”

In 2011 Norwegian salmon farmers exported a record 979,000 tonnes of the pink-fleshed fish, valued in total at 29.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($5.02 billion). Less than 20,000 tonnes went to the United States, in the form of fillets, analysts said.

“This gives us absolutely an extra opportunity,” Alf-Helge Aarskog, chief executive of Marine Harvest, the world’s largest salmon farmer, told Reuters. “Norwegian salmon is attractive in the USA, and always has been.”

The U.S. commission did not comment on its decision except to say that it did not expect a repeat of the “material injury” to U.S. interests that had prompted the original penalty. ($1 = 5.8150 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Walter Gibbs and Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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