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Thai Shrimp Exporters Expect a Good Year

THAILAND - Despite the global economic crisis, Thai shrimp exports are expected to grow in both volume and value this year.

Thailand's shrimp industry remains in good shape despite the global downturn, with exports expected to grow both in volume and value this year, according to Bangkok Post.

Local shrimp production is projected to increase by five per cent this year to 520,000 tonnes, with exports also up five per cent to between 380,000 and 390,000 tonnes, said Somsak Paneetatyasai, president of the Thai Shrimp Association.

"Thailand's shrimp industry has been left unscathed by the global economic crisis, even though about 90 per cent of production relies on exports," said Mr Somsak.

"Earlier in the year, we planned to cut local production by 20 per cent to only 396,000 tonnes to cope with expected shrinking demand due to the world crisis, but until now the world's shrimp consumption has remained strong."

Shrimp exports are expected to earn Thailand about 89.25 billion baht (THB) this year, up five per cent from THB 85 billion last year, said Mr Somsak. The United States is expected to remain the largest export market, accounting for about 50 to 55 per cent of exports followed by Japan and Europe, which would each claim about 10 to 15 per cent.

Strong shrimp exports are attributed mainly to the efficiency and quality of Thailand's shrimp production. Shrimp is the only agricultural product to record export growth in the first eight months of this year, with frozen and processed shipments up 6.5 per cent to $1.53 billion.

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

"The government should continue negotiating with US counterparts to remove Thai shrimp from anti-dumping, while it's imperative for authorities to accelerate clearing the US accusations over the child-labour issues, as this may affect the sentiment of US consumers," he said.

The government is also being asked to manage baht exchange rate to improve exports, and to open new markets for shrimp exports to diversify risk.

Pinyo Kiatpinyo, president of the Federation of Shrimp Farmers Co-operatives of Thailand, also urged the government to ensure fair competition between small-scale and larger farmers and to develop a shrimp fund to improve access to finance by small and medium-scale farmers.

Currently, Thailand has about 22,000 shrimpers with 110,000 shrimp ponds covering 76,800 hectares. Production last year was 495,000 tonnes of shrimp.

the Fish Site Editor

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