Hundreds of workers and executives of the industry yesterday walked to the office of the European Commission Delegation and embassies of European countries in Bangkok to deliver letters asking the EU to reconsider the move they claim would increase duties on processed chicken from Thailand almost five fold. „That may cut the growth of our chicken exports to EU this year to almost zero,” Anan Sirimongkolkasem, president of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters' Association, told reporters during the protest. „The new tariffs would hurt Thai chicken exports more than Brazil's as they are still exporting frozen meat which we cannot export because of the bird flu.” Key overseas markets such as Japan and the EU have required chicken meat from Thailand to be cooked since the bird flu virus was detected in country in January 2004.
EU accounts for 40% of Thailand's total exports of the meat, with about 110,000 tons exported to the trade block last year, Anan said. EU's own chicken exports plunged 22% in the first four months of the year and probably will drop 18% for the year to 620,000 tons, as global demand for chicken is down and there is a glut of cheap supplies from countries including Brazil, the US Department of Agriculture said in a report last month. Chicken production in the 25-nation trade group will fall 4% this year as an outbreak of avian influenza erodes poultry consumption, it said.
Under the new tariff regime which the EU first announced to its trade partners in June, the import duty on cooked chicken meat would rise to as much as 53% from 10.9% on exports exceeding quotas. Quotas based on last year's trade volumes will be set by negotiations between the EU and Thailand scheduled for September, Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Trade Counsellor at the European Commission Delegation to Thailand said in an interview yesterday. „The aim is to control the expansion of imports into the EU,” Bouflet said. „The increased duties will be applicable only to exceeding quantities, outside the quotas.” (Bloomberg)