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Portugal Supports Excluding Tuna From EU-Thai Trade Agreement Portugal, May 22, 13

Yesterday, Spanish and Portuguese canners found common ground on campaigning for canned tuna to be considered as sensitive product, which should be excluded from the free trade agreement between the EU and Thailand.

Representatives of leading business organizations in the sector of both countries, Anfaco-Cecopesca, ANCIP and Pâo do Mar yesterday, in the Portuguese city of Matosinhos, signed a joint statement to defend the European market against the threat of fierce competition from Asia. This, despite the fact that Thailand hardly exports any canned tuna to Portugal. Furthermore, most competition for the Portuguese canning industry, in its domestic market, comes from exports by Spanish tuna processors.

The joint declaration recognized the impossibility of European producers to compete with the Thai canning industry because EU processors cannot ignore the rights of workers or Community rules. “The low production costs in Thailand are based on very cheap labor, working schedules have no limitations and there is no social security contribution or otherwise, allowing this country to be highly competitive in preparations of tuna”, indicates their statement.
Therefore, the organizations want the EU to arbitrate measures so that canned products processed under third world conditions cannot freely enter the EU market at dumping prices. They estimate that the entry of the Asians into EU threatens more than 17,000 direct jobs in Spain and Portugal. Combining the numbers of all canned seafood producing countries in the EU, the total amount of direct jobs affected would be 120,300, creating a value of production at Euro 3,837 million.

No comments were made about what the job loss-effect in Portugal and Spain, which is caused by the fact that tuna processing companies in both countries have switched their canning production to pre-cooked tuna loins imported from Ecuador, Thailand, and other developing countries. Recently both organizations lobbied in Brussels for the increase to a 22.000 M/T duty free quota for pre-cooked frozen loins from countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and China. During that lobbying campaign, no objections were made about the rights of the workers producing these pre-cooked frozen loins in Asia for EU canneries.