Thai farmers protest changes in EU chicken tariffs
Around 500 Thai farmers have protested outside European missions in Bangkok, objecting to the EU’s plan to change tariffs on Thai chicken.
The protesters, who waved Thai flags and carried a banner reading ‘Thai chicken under attack’, delivered letters to the European Commission
delegation as well as the Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French and German embassies.
Thailand, the biggest exporter of cooked chicken products to the European Union, urged the EU not to follow through with proposed changes to its import duty regime on poultry products.
Under the new system, the EU said it will introduce quotas for cooked chicken, salted chicken and turkey.
Exports falling within the quotas would be taxed at the existing rates, but exports beyond that level would be taxed at a rate of 102 euros per 100 kilos, the European Commission’s delegation said in a statement. Quotas are yet to be determined.
‘Our aim is to streamline the system of EU tariff levels for these products. The changes will not affect Thailand’s traditional export volumes,’ said Jean-Jacques Bouflet, the delegation’s trade counselor.
Thai producers are worried that the new system will damage the country’s chicken industry, just as it is bouncing back from international bans on raw Thai poultry over fears of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.
‘The plan would seriously affect Thai farmers who are heavily in debt from borrowing money from banks to upgrade their farms,’ said Anan Sirimongkolkasem, president of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, one of 11 groups in the protest.
Since 2003, Thai exports of cooked chicken to the EU have jumped by 74 percent to 106,503 tonnes, worth an estimated 265.8 million euros. Exports are expected to reach 130,000 tonnes this year.