Thaifex 2017 blog: Using forced labor is ‘a choice’ : June 2, 2017
You’re no longer suitable
That’s what Thai producers heard from the European Union a few years ago, even before the forced labor scandal came about — and exporters are still suffering the severe impact.
“Spain used to be a huge market for us four years ago, and it’s residual now, same as Italy,” Tanyisa Luengrungroj, overseas branch manager in Europe at CP Foods, told Intrafish
After two days at the Thaifex show, the GSP topic resonates whenever one mentions Europe.
“It killed the market,” said Choopong Luesukprasert, managing director of Marine Gold Products.
Producers and traders are equally agreeing on the fact the high taxes clearly benefit direct competitors of Thailand, such as Vietnam.
Why was GSP implemented” They say they don’t know.
“The EU decided that the Thai product was no longer suitable for the market, Thailand lost its status in the GSP scheme, and the EU implemented those tariffs,” Jim Gulkin, managing director of Siam Canadian, told Intrafish.
“It was before the labor scandal, and although that doesn’t make the situation better, I don’t think that was the reason, it was very political, something to do with political preferences over countries with which EU members have a long relationship,” Gulkin said.
Asked if Brexit could at least open the doors for the UK market he said; “ It could, but it’s to be seen, the UK is looking for free-trade agreements, but Vietnam has been looking for that with the EU for some time and that has gotten nowhere, so will the UK partner with Thailand, or Vietnam, or someone else?
“That is something we don’t know.”
How EMS repainted the global shrimp picture
There’s too many players in the industry at the moment, and that’s the biggest headache of Thai shrimp producers, Jim Gulkin, managing director at trading company Siam Canadian, told IntraFish.
Although the EMS crisis is over, the consequences of it won’t be temporary, he said.
First because of the many countries that jumped into the shrimp export scene when Thai production fell so drastically, and second, because Thai shrimp production “will probably never be the same.”
Gulkin said production this year is better than last, albeit with some early rains impaction harvests.
“It’s better, but it will never be the same as it was once.”
Siam Canadian itself took advantage of the EMS situation, boosting sales from its offices around the world, and sourcing from different countries something that gave the company the chance to work on a wider net of suppliers.
According to Gulkin, around the Asian shrimp region, the situation is as follows:
- Indian production is good, and prices are relatively low, but they will stabilize in the coming two the three weeks.
- Vietnam, which has had ongoing production problems – although not as severe as Thailand – has low production at the moment. However, its efficiency in processing offsets the low production, as the country imports and exports large volumes from Indonesia and India. Prices are stable.
- Thai production is better, and it will grow compared with last year, but the early rains could have some impact on this.