Aquaculture for all

Customs strike hits Chilean salmon exports

Salmonids Husbandry Economics +4 more

Salmon exports from Chile have been halted following the launch of a customs strike last on May 24th, writes Christian Perez for The Fish Site.

The decision to strike is similar to that made two years ago, and involves grievances over staffing issues, working hours and retirement benefits. This move has limited exports and imports of all goods, including salmon and is likely to cost the country’s salmon industry around US$ 5m a day.

Felipe Sandoval, chairman of the Association of the Chilean Salmon Industry (Salmonchile), claimed that this strike represents a loss of image and reputation due to the inability to meet commercial commitments. “Equally important to financial losses is the crisis of confidence and image we are experiencing today. The positioning built in recent years, is severely damaged,” he said.

Sandoval added that most problems for salmon producing companies are due to limitations and delays in export of fresh products, mainly to the USA and Brazil.

Although customs officers have implemented emergency response rosters, Sandoval stressed that the Chilean salmon industry cannot rely on such measures. He also commented that the consequences of this strike are still being assessed, but that the region of Magallanes was the first area to note the impact of the strike, as large numbers of cargo trucks carrying salmon products have been unable to cross the border into Argentina since May 25th.

According to the National Association of Customs Officers (Anfach), the strike is the result of disagreements with the Government in the modernization and strengthening regulation intended for the Chilean Customs Service. “The Government has ignored previous agreements signed on May 2015 and November 2016, by submitting a counter-proposal which does not take into account the commitments made with the customs workers,” Anfach representatives said.

A previous customs strike held on May 2015 lasted nine days and resulted in daily losses of US$ 5 million for the country’s salmon industry. On that occasion, the major request of the customs union was very similar: an increase in their number of workers. They claimed that Chile is one of the ten countries with the least number of customs officers per capita in the world. One of their goals is to have 3,000 customs workers by 2020 (Chile has a population of about 17.6 million people).

Image courtesy of Anfach.