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Rep warns of US bid to ban EMS shrimp

Jul 21. 2013
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THE THAI TRADE CENTRE for the United States has warned Thai shrimp exporters of US attempts to stringently enforce a ban on imports of shrimp with EMS (Early Mortality Syndrome), as the changes could hurt Thai shrimp farmers and exporters.

Pichalai Siripanich, senior director |to the Thai Trade Centre in Los Angeles, said Louisiana senators were attempt-|ing to push through a bill against the import of shrimp with EMS, which |is currently spreading across globe, including Southeast Asia. The move, he said, aimed to protect the US shrimp industry.

The bill was not ratified during a Senate meeting in May and US senators have been instructed to conduct a public hearing before proposing the bill again at the next Senate meeting.

“The US is the largest export market for Thai shrimp. If the US passes this bill, the Thai shrimp industry would be directly effected as some areas in Thailand have not yet been able to clear up the EMS problem,” Pichalai said.

She urged government agencies and private enterprises to solve the problem to ensure that Thailand won’t suffer, if the new law is passed.

A number of countries, including the Philippines and Mexico, have banned shrimp imports from countries where EMS has been found. Louisiana state also wants to protect its domestic industry from growing annual imports of foreign shrimp.

However, restaurants in Louisiana are protesting the law as it could cause a hike in shrimp prices and a supply shortage in the local market. Louisiana has relied heavily on shrimp imports from Thailand, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Ecuador.

According to data from the International Trade Promotion Department, the US imported 77.4 tonnes of Thai frozen shrimp, worth US$665 million (Bt20.63 billion) last year, accounting for 20 per cent of total US shrimp imports. The US also imported 55 per cent of Thai shrimp products, worth a total of $506 million last year, accounting for 50 per cent of total US shrimp imports.

However, Thai shrimp exports to the US in the first four months of this year declined by 21 per cent in volume to $153 million. Market share of frozen Thai shrimp in the US also fell from 20 per cent last year to 15 per cent in the first four months of this year.

India has become the largest shrimp supplier to the US, as EMS has not effected farmers there.

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