Shrimp exporters urge GSP extension
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Shrimp exporters urge GSP extension

Thai shrimp farmers have urged the European Union to extend trade privileges for Thai shrimp, citing the emerging early mortality syndrome (EMS) that has created huge industry losses.

Representatives from concerned shrimp agencies yesterday submitted a letter to the EU delegation to Thailand, calling on the latter to extend tax privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to Thailand.

Thai processed shrimp is scheduled to lose its GSP effective next Jan 1, making the import tariff increase to 12% from 7%.

With EMS emerging late last year, Thai shrimp production is estimated at 250,000 tonnes at best in 2013 following 500,000 to 550,000 tonnes average annual production in recent years.

The industry's peak was 640,000 tonnes in 2010.

The representatives included the Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association, the Thai Eastern Shrimp Association and heads of shrimp farming clubs from Surat Thani, Chanthaburi, Pattani, Krabi and Trang provinces.

Somsak Panitatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association, said expiration of the GSP will create even bigger losses.

"We're calling on the EU to consider extending this tax privilege for some period of time as Thailand tries to cope with the disease," said Mr Somsak, adding that the Fisheries Department, academic institutions, aquaculture scientists, fishery experts and shrimp farmers have all joined to combine field and lab work to identify the cause and solve the disease.

"In 2004, EU restored the GSP on Thai shrimp exports to help farmers earn money after the tsunami devastated farms. That disaster impacted the livelihood of 1.5 million farmers and their families. But this EMS is a shrimp tsunami," he said.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, reported Thai shrimp exports to the EU during the first five months of this year dropped by 34% from 3.69 billion baht in the same period last year, with volume plunging 38% from 12,548 tonnes.

Last year, the EU imported 704,162 tonnes of shrimp, with Thai shrimp making up only 50,021 tonnes.

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