February 19, 2004



Thai Shrimp Exports To US To Fall 20-30%


Thailand's shrimp exports to the United States is likely to fall by 20-30 percent following the imposition of anti-dumping duties on shrimp exports from Thailand.


"We expect that the Kingdom's export volume will drop by 20-30 per cent but it will have a smaller impact on export value because export prices will increase due to lower supply," Thiraphong Chansiri, secretary-general of Thai Frozen Foods Association, said on Wednesday.


USITC's preliminary determination yesterday came as it said it would continue an investigation into whether exporters from Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador, India, China and Vietnam "dumped" frozen and canned warm-water shrimp and prawn in the US market.


A final anti-dumping rate will be determined by the US Department of Commerce and USITC. A preliminary determination by the department is expected by June 8.


"Thai exporters will face export uncertainty for a while because importers are reluctant to import as they are afraid of anti-dumping charges, and the final rate wont be announced till June," he said.


Dumping duty is charged on goods imported at a price below the home-market or a third country's price or below the cost of production.


Thiraphong said Thai exporters would have to wait till Friday or early next week for the names of companies targeted to answer questionnaires for the US Commerce Department. Exporters have to send back the questionnaire within 30-45 days.


Thiraphong, however, has the positive view that export prices will rise because shrimp exports from those six countries account for 75-80 per cent of the US's total imports. Thus, any shortage of supply is likely to increase the price.


Thailand is the biggest shrimp exporter to the US. Volumes reached 120,727 tonnes over the first 11 months last year. Thai exports to other major exporting countries include China (71,909 tonnes), Vietnam (53,136 tonnes), India (41,682 tonnes), and Ecuador (31,273 tonnes) during the first 11 months last year. The US imported a total of 460,409 tonnes in the same period last year.


These countries exported $2.35 billion worth of shrimp to the United States in 2002.


Thiraphong said Thai exports to the US were of higher quality and price. So, if Thailand's anti-dumping duty is lower than other competitors it should create more business opportunities.


Thiraphong, who is also president of Thai Union Frozen Products Plc, the country's leading shrimp exporter, said the company's total shrimp exports account for 4 per cent of its total revenue of US$40-50 million a year.


Thailand's Commerce Ministry, also said the anti-dumping rate would not be high. The US is planning to send officials to Thailand to meet 12 Thai exporters whose products are under investigation.


Rachane Potjanasuntorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the anti-dumping charge would not hit Thai exports hard. But he noted that Thai shrimp exports to the US dropped 10 per cent after the investigation.


A coalition of shrimp harvesters from eight US states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas - have asked for duties ranging from 26 per cent to 264 per cent on frozen and canned shrimp from the Asian and Latin American suppliers.


The heart of the US industry's case is that the foreign suppliers are selling their product at a much-lower price in the United States than in other markets, she said.


"US shrimpers and processors are not able to make ends meet due to the increasing amount of unfair trade," John Williams, a Florida shrimp fisherman and officer of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said in a statement.


Deborah Regan, a spokeswoman for the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said: "We don't concede that it's necessarily cheaper" to grow shrimp in ponds", although some US producers have turned to that option. "Overall, the cost of wild harvesting versus farming is very similar."

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