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EU Absorbing Previous U.S. Share Of Ecuadorian Canned Tuna Production

Ecuador’s canned tuna export has been growing on a steady pace for the last three years. The total amount exported from January to October 2008 reached 111.213 M/T, 6% more than the previous year.

Another trend for the past years is the growing shift of the United States’ share on Ecuadorian canned tuna to European markets.

Exports of the product to North America represented 24% of Ecuador’s total exports in 2006, three times more than its 2008 share: 8%.

From 20.172 M/T in 2006, the US imported 8.915 M/T canned tuna from Latin American last year which represented a 66% fall.

The shift may be explained by the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA), which since 2004 provides duty free treatment for tuna in pouches, having Ecuador as its main supplier, but excludes canned tuna from the zero tariff.

According to the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the most important reason for this exclusion of Ecuador’s canned tuna from a duty free status to the US market is the influence of political lobbying by certain elements of the US canned tuna industry, which has an interest in protecting its processing plants in Los Angeles, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

Europe’s share of the product has grown from 45% in 2006 to 62% in 2008. Especially business to the U.K grew explosively by 189% but also -to a lesser extend- to Germany  where exports of the Ecuadorian canned tuna increased 131% during that period.

Ecuador’s shipments of canned tuna to other South American markets remained stable – 27% of total amount, with 30.563 M/T in 2008.