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Shrimp Sales Growing

THAILAND - Thailand's shrimp industry has been left unscathed by the global and local economic crisis, with export values now expected to rise to nearly 100 billion baht by the end of this year.

According to the Thai Shrimp Association, the country's shrimp shipments for the first 10 months rose eight per cent in volume to 320,855 tonnes, with export values increasing healthily by 12.24 per cent to 77.13 billion Thai baht.

Association president, Somsak Paneetatyasai said export shipments had increased both in volume and value in all markets including the United States, where Thai shrimp, subjected to anti-dumping penalties, are less competitive than the products from Ecuador and Vietnam which enjoy nearly zero import tariffs.

Thailand's shrimp exports to the US market for the 10-month period grew 3.3 per cent in volume to 155,431 tonnes with value increasing 7.52 per cent to 38.02 billion baht. The US last year imported 564,240 tonnes of shrimp, 182,371 tonnes or 32 per cent of which were from Thailand.

However, the association's executives noted that the surge in the Thai exports was partially due to a sharp export fall by Indonesia, where a disease outbreak hurts local production.

Indonesia's farmed shrimp product is estimated at only 180,000 tonnes this year compared with 230,000 tonnes last year.

Thailand's farmed shrimp production, meanwhile, is estimated at as high as 540,000 tonnes this year, a rise of about nine per cent from 495,000 tonnes last year.

"Earlier in the year, Thai shrimpers planned to cut local production by 20 per cent to only 396,000 tonnes to cope with the expected shrinking demand due to the global economic crisis. But until now the world's shrimp consumption has been unaffected and is thriving," Mr Somsak said.

Thai shrimp exports are estimated at 380,000 tonnes this year, a rise of about 5.8 per cent from 359,000 tonnes last year.

Export value is estimated at 94 billion baht compared with 84 billion baht last year.

According to Mr Somsak, Thai shrimp exports in 2010 are expected to be in the same range as this year both in terms of value and volume.

"Production next year is estimated at 540,000 tonnes and we would try our best to control the local production to curb the price swings," he said.

According to Mr Somsak, next year's exports would rely largely on foreign exchange, climate, the world's economy, oil prices and Jakarta's handling of the disease outbreak in its local shrimp industry.

To ensure export growth in the coming year, the government is being urged to help address the industry's challenges, particularly trade barriers such as the current anti-dumping measures by the US government targeting Thai shrimp, and allegations by the US about child labour.

More importantly, Mr Somsak said the government needed to accelerate its safeguard and quarantine measures against low-quality imported shrimp. The measures are needed as regional agricultural trade will expand when tariffs are eliminated under the Asean free trade area agreement in January.

the Fish Site Editor

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