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Spain joins EU push against CPF seafood

Spain has begun to impose an import ban on all frozen shrimp and seafood products from Charoen Pokphand Foods and a Spanish industry group has called for the removal of Thai canned tuna from the European Union's proposed free-trade agreement with the Kingdom after allegations of slave labour in the Thai fishing industry.

Tritaporn Khomapat, director of the Office of Agricultural Affairs in Brussels, Belgium, yesterday notified Niwat Sutemechaikul, director-general of the Thai Fisheries Department, that many supermarkets in Europe as well as the United States had stopped stocking CPF's frozen shrimp and other seafood products.

Some of the big European chains turning away CPF's products are France's Carrefour, Germany's Aldi, Belgium's Delhaize and Colruyt, Spain's Mercadona, and Norway's ICA. In the US, Walmart and Costco have done the same.

The Thai ambassador in Madrid reported that Spain's Alcampo supermarket, an affiliate of France's Auchan, had stopped placing orders for all products from CPF.

However, UK-based Tesco, which has not halted purchases of CPF products, will send a team to Thailand to inspect CPF's production process and visit agencies, such as the Fisheries Department, CPF's representative office in Madrid said.

Chanintr Chalisarapong, chairman of the Thai Tuna Industry Association, has told Spanish online newspaper La Informacion that Thailand is being unfairly accused by Spain's private fishing industry of ignoring the problem of forced labour, according to Spain's largest news agency, EFE.

Chanintr said that while Thailand is cracking down on human trafficking, it did not neglect to provide fair wages and benefits to migrant workers, as well labour laws to protect their rights, similar to their local counterparts.

The Thai tuna industry operates transparently and welcomes inspection by EU authorities, he said. Thailand disagrees with calls by Spain's Association of Fish and Shellfish Manufacturers to remove Thai canned tuna products from the proposed FTA.



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