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Thais urged to follow Ecuador

THAILAND - Thai authorities are being urged to follow Ecuador's move in taking the United States to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over its shrimp anti-dumping duty.

"Thai authorities should speed up filing complaints with the WTO separately for each allegation. Single-allegation petitions would shorten the investigation process and could encourage the US to enter negotiations with Thailand," said Poj Aramwattanont, the president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association.

He cited the decision by Ecuador to file a complaint with the WTO over Washington's use of a practice known as zeroing, to calculate whether the shrimp were being sold at below-cost price. Ecuador won the case in early February this year.

Mr Poj also warned that Thai shrimp exports could be hit harder after the US penalty on Ecuador's shrimp was lifted, probably by August this year.

Thailand filed a complaint with the WTO over the US anti-dumping measures in March last year, but it contained two allegations: one against the zeroing practice and the other against the requirement for a continuous bond (C-bond).

Thailand has argued that, apart from being unfair, the measures prescribe an excessively complicated and cumbersome process for paying the levies. Thai shrimp exporters also face a 100% bank-guarantee payment in the US known as a continuous bond, which adds to their costs and affects their financial liquidity.

Thai exporters have paid more than six billion baht for C-bond guarantees over the last two years.

Surapol Pratuangtum, president of the Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association, said earlier that exporters' tight liquidity due to the C-bond guarantee requirement helped push down the prices of Thai shrimp significantly this year.

Local shrimp farmers have seen their prices falling since April, with the market prices now below production costs.

The market prices for white shrimp are now about 50-60 baht per kilogramme of 100 heads, compared to 90 baht last year, while the production costs average 70 baht per kg.

For the first four months of 2007, Thailand exported 80,000 tonnes of shrimp, a rise of 12.5%, worth 20.632 billion baht, up 4.43 % over the same period last year.Early in 2004, the US imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of shrimp and prawns from Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Bangkok Post