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Thai exporters keep hawk’s eye on US-China trade deal

Jan 20. 2020
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By The Nation

Exporters are closely watching the US-China trade dispute after the two giants reached a phase 1 agreement, with Thai products having to now compete with US goods for Chinese market share.

Under the agreement between Washington and Beijing, China will buy US products amounting to not less than $200 billion (Bt6 trillion) within two years, the items being oil seeds, beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and animal feed. This is expected to have an impact on Thai agricultural exports.

However, Swine Raisers Association president Surachai Sutthitham said that if China purchases more pork from the US, it will have some impact on Thailand but probably not much. Due to the current swine fever in China, there was still an opportunity to sell more live Thai pigs to the Asian giant. This could be done by exporting not more than 1,000 pigs per day over the course of 2-3 weeks by boat through Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen checkpoint to China’s southern Yunnan province.

“The pork that we export to China is from standard farms which are free from Foot and Mouth Disease and certified by the Department of Livestock Development. If China imports more from the United States, it probably won’t affect us much, because Chinese consumption is still high,” Surachai felt.

But Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association manager Kukrit Arepagorn said that on November 14 China had lifted its ban on poultry imports from the US and 172 poultry processing plants in that country have been certified by China, so this may affect Thai exports.

“African Swine Fever has spread in China since late June, decreasing the amount of pork available and increasing demand for chickens in the country,” Kukrit said.

Exports of Thai chicken products from January to October 2019 totalled 46,000 tonnes, 99 per cent of it fresh chickens – an increase of 15,000.

“If China turns to the US for increased chicken imports, it may affect Thailand,” he said.

“However, we still have the advantage over the US for the freshness of products as we are closer to China. Most chicken products imported from Thailand are chicken feet, middle wings, and drumsticks. Chicken products imported by China from the US are mainly drumsticks and legs. But these products from the US take months to reach China. However, fluctuating market prices in China may place even Thai traders at risk of losing profit,” Kukrit added.

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