SHRIMP EXPORTS TO US
Meet set on double penalty
The country's shrimp exporters may no longer have to face a double penalty imposed by the United States after officials of the US Trade Representative meet with Commerce Vice Minister Uttama Savanayana next week to discuss the possibility of ending its continuous bond (C-bond) on Thai exports.
Assistant US Trade Representative Barbara Weisel is visiting Bangkok on Monday to discuss bilateral trade issues.
Although Weisel was the head negotiator for the Thai-US free-trade agreement, Commerce Ministry permanent secretary Karun Kittisataporn said the government would not raise the FTA issue during the meeting.
"Our focus is on unfair taxes on Thai shrimp exports," he said.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said Thailand would highlight the issue of special charges on Thai shrimp exports to the US officials during Monday's meeting.
The US authorities have charged a "continuous bond", or a 100-per-cent bank guarantee payment, for Thai shrimp exports to the US. The US charges the C-bond on shrimp exports from countries subject to anti-dumping duties.
Somkid said the C-bond was unfair as Thai exporters are now subject to double-penalty charges - the bond and the anti-dumping levy - adding that the US should consider revising the 100-per-cent bank guarantee.
However, if the talks are not successful, the Kingdom will raise the case at the World Trade Organisation because what the US has done is tantamount to an unfair trade practice, the minister said.
India is also petitioning against the US to the WTO because it is facing the same double-penalty practice as Thailand for its shrimp exports.
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the department was awaiting the result of India's petition. Thailand will decide within 60 days whether to act against the US.
Nuntawan said that Thai small and medium-sized shrimp exporters were suffering heavily in the face of the double tariffs charge by the US.
The US has no right to impose a bank guarantee on Thai shrimp exporters as such a practice breaks the WTO's regulations, said Nuntawan.
The government is now asking for financial support for shrimp exporters from commercials banks, including the Export and Import Bank of Thailand, the state-run Krung Thai Bank, and Bangkok Bank.
At present, Thai shrimp sold to the US is subject to an anti-dumping rate of 5.79-6.82 per cent and exporters must also produce a 100-per-cent bank guarantee of the products' export value before they can be shipped.
According to a Customs Department report, the value of the nation's shrimp exports grew 8.5 per cent to Bt65.7 billion and volume jumped 21 per cent to 260,426 tonnes last year.
The US is the largest market for Thai shrimp, accounting for 50 per cent of exports. Shrimp exports to the US grew by 9.8 per cent last year.