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Thailand remains main shrimp exporter to US despite outbreak

Despite a supply shortfall due to disease, Thailand remains the United States' largest shrimp exporter, with volume exceeding 410,000 tonnes in the first half of this year.

Pranee Siriphand, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said export of shrimp to the US had not changed much even though the outbreak of early mortality syndrome (EMS) had reduced supplies this year.

The bacterial disease, which first appeared in Asia in 2009, does not affect humans but is often fatal to shrimp. Besides Thailand, it has affected the shrimp fisheries of China, Malaysia and Vietnam, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Pranee's department reported that shrimp export to the US reached 410,000 tonnes in the first six months, worth Bt15 billion. Thailand holds about 18 per cent of the US shrimp market.

Indonesia is the United States' second-largest supplier at 371,000 tonnes worth Bt10.4 billion in the first half, followed by Ecuador at 390,000 tonnes and India at 371,000 tonnes.

Pranee said that although Thailand had suffered a lower shrimp supply this year, exports had not been affected severely as the government and private exporters have tried to solve export barriers.

However, she warned that Thailand could still lose market share to export rivals, since the EMS outbreak has not yet been eradicated. The US has increased shrimp import from other countries including Indonesia, Ecuador and India.

The Thai government is working on the problem and expects the situation to improve soon.


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