Shrimp industry upbeat on 2015

Shrimp
Shrimp industry upbeat on 2015
Petchanet Pratruangkrai

Thai shrimp farmers and traders foresee brighter prospects for production and export next year as they have seen clear signs of recovery from a shrimp disease that has damaged the industry since late 2012.

However, the industry is still worried about losing tariff privileges in the European Union, while other trade barriers could hinder growth.

According to the Thai Shrimp Association, the country has lost more than Bt100 billion a year in revenue since the outbreak of early mortality syndrome (EMS) and has lost its crown as the world's largest shrimp exporter. However, if the disease is eradicated in the next few years, the Kingdom should be able to reclaim that crown.

"Thai shrimp hatcheries have bottomed out from EMS, and now are recovering. With serious attempts to solve the disease problem, the industry should perform better next year," Somsak Paneetatyasai, president of the association, said yesterday.

However, he called for the government to help solve many non-tariff barriers, including human-trafficking reports and anti-dumping duties, while the lack of a free-trade agreement with the EU could also hinder growth.

The association forecasts total domestic production expanding to 250,000-300,000 tonnes next year after this year's output dropped by 8 per cent to only 230,000 tonnes, a plunge of 56 per cent from 2012 due to the spread of EMS in shrimp hatcheries.

It projects exports jumping by 20 per cent to 180,000-200,000 tonnes worth around Bt75 billion to Bt80 billion next year, from this year's expectation of 150,000 tonnes worth about Bt60 billion.

In the first 10 months of this year, shrimp exports plummeted by 26.34 per cent in volume to 129,432 tonnes, and were down by 8.09 per cent in value to Bt51.72 billion, as supply was crimped. The United States is Thailand's major export market for shrimp, accounting 42 per cent of export value, followed by Japan with 24 per cent, the EU a t 13 per cent, and Australia at 4 per cent.

The value of shrimp exports has not dropped as much as volume because the price of the product has zoomed upwards amid high demand in the world market.

This year, global shrimp production reached 2.2 million tonnes, 25 per cent higher than in 2013. China's production increased by 33 per cent to 400,000 tonnes, India's by 48 per cent to 400,000 tonnes, Vietnam's by 50 per cent to 360,000 tonnes, and Indonesia's by 11 per cent to 200,000 tonnes. Latin American countries increased their shrimp production by 20 per cent to 520,000 tonnes.

Previously, the Thai Shrimp Association called for the EU to reconsider cutting tariff privileges on Thai shrimp during the EMS outbreak. The end of the union's Generalised System of Preferences will see tariffs on Thai shrimp jump from 4 per cent to 12 per cent, effective early next year.

The association has also called for the government and the EU to proceed with free-trade negotiations to eliminate trade barriers, and called for the US government to review its anti-dumping duties imposed on Thai shrimp as these are no longer valid.

The EU should also exclude the Thai shrimp industry from its list of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishery as this country's shrimp are mostly produced in farms, and do not damage the environment as alleged. Somsak worried that if the EU gave the entire Thai fishery a "yellow card" for weak management of fishing areas and labour issues, the shrimp industry would not recover easily, despite controlling EMS.

He said shrimp farmers had not yet totally turned their backs on the industry as price of the product has increased this year, as global demand remains high.

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