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Thai shrimp production fell abruptly due to the impact of EMS outbreaks. (Photo Credit: Sifco)

Shrimp sector requests tax privilege extension from EU

Click on the flag for more information about Thailand THAILAND
Wednesday, July 03, 2013, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

The European Union (EU) has been asked by the Thai Shrimp Association (TSA) to extend tax privileges for the country’s shrimp imports to help the industry cope with a halved production late last year caused by outbreaks of early mortality syndrome (EMS).

"We want the EU to consider extending such tax privileges for a certain period of time while Thailand is trying every way to defeat the disease," said Somsak Panitatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association.

The TSA and 20 representatives from other groups sent a letter to Antonio Berenguer, head of Trade Economic Affairs at the EU office in Bangkok, as the representative of EU Ambassador David Lipman, regarding the matter. The letter calls on the office to extend Thailand’s tax privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). 

What would help the Thai shrimp industry recover is to be able to rely on stability on the side of the EU market. As the Thai-EU FTA is being worked out, the shrimp sector is scheduled to graduate from the GSP on 1 January 2014, when the import duty is set to jump from 7 to 12 per cent, The Nation reports. 

Thailand’s shrimp industry is heavily reliant on processed shrimp and its GSP breaks. And according to the sector, the extension of GSP support will aid not just Thai farmers and their communities, but also EU retailers, food makers and consumers of shrimp.

As EMS has been devastating crops since late last year, Thai shrimp production has be halved: while production hit about 500,000-550,000 tonnes a year, with the peak at 640,000 tonnes in 2010, this year is expected to yield 250,000 tonnes at best.

“The EMS infection has hit the local shrimp industry while the cut of GSP privileges by EU will worsen the country’s exports and affect at least 1.5 million breeders,” said TSA chairman Somsak Panitatyasai.

A similar devastation led the EU to restore the GSP for Thai shrimp in 2004, after shrimp farms were destroyed by a great tsunami. 

Now, the situation seems to be worse, and the association is referring to the harmful consequences of the loss of tax perks as immeasurable when it comes to the livelihoods of Thai shrimp farmers and those throughout the supply chain. 

The shortfall is expected to disrupt businesses in the retail trade and to make both food makers and EU consumers feel the pinch.

In 2012, the EU imported 704,162 tonnes of shrimp, including just 50,021 tonnes of Thai shrimp, Bangkok Post reports.

Related articles:

- Shrimp farm crops suffer from EMS outbreaks 
- Shrimp sector appeals to govt for assistance 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  SIFCO -Siamchai International Foods Co., Ltd-
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