Thai seafood sales in China set to rise as tariff side effect

Thai seafood sales in China set to rise as tariff side effect

Thailand is expected to sell more frozen and processed seafood in China after the mainland slapped a 25% tariff on 222 items of US products that include seafood, soybeans, pork, fish, orange juice and whiskey on July 6 in retaliation for higher US tariffs on Chinese products.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the Commerce Ministry, said higher tariffs on US goods imposed by China will make US products in the Chinese market more expensive and Thai products more competitive in China.

"The first group that is expected to benefit from China's higher tariffs are sellers of shrimp and crab, be it live, fresh, frozen, dried, salted or smoked," Ms Pimchanok said. "In 2017, China imported more than US$2.5 billion [83.4 billion baht] worth of shrimp and crab products from the world, $290 million of which was from the US and $150 million from Thailand, while Thailand shipped $1.16 billion worth of shrimp and crab shipments to the world market."

According to Ms Pimchanok, another group of seafood products expected to see a windfall is frozen cuttlefish and fish.

Last year, China imported $500 million worth of cuttlefish from the world, with $75 million from the US and $200,000 from Thailand, while imports of frozen fish amounted to $230 million, with $43 million from the US and $1 million from Thailand.

Thailand exported $290 million and $250 million worth of cuttlefish and frozen fish, respectively, last year.

"Thailand's cuttlefish and fish product exports to China remain low," Ms Pimchanok said. "But it shows that Thailand still has ample room to increase exports of the two products to China."

She warned that higher import tariffs by China on US goods could prompt US products such as salmon, cod, frozen cuttlefish and lobster to flood into Thailand.

Thai manufacturers will have a good opportunity to import US products and process them for re-export or domestic consumption at relatively low cost, she said, but responsible authorities must watch for and prevent any negative impact on domestic fish farmers.

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