Europêche lodges anti-dumping complaint against Chinese tuna exports

FISHING/AQUACULTURE WEEK

Europêche, the organisation formed of EU fishing industry stakeholders, has presented a request to the European Commission for the initiation of an anti-dumping investigation concerning imports of tuna processed loins – mainly skipjack – originating in China, which are causing serious economic damage to the European fishing industry.

The information furnished by Europêche to the European authorities discloses the existence of unlawful aids and tax breaks allegedly granted by the Chinese Administration to the Chinese exporters of both tuna loins and canned tuna.

Europêche said that it urges the EU to eliminate any present and future tariff derogations granted to tuna loins, which mainly come from China, to mitigate further market and economic disruption.

In a press release dated September 28, Europêche said that subsidised tuna exports are a trade practice that is not only breaching World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules but also threatening sustainable ocean governance.

The organisation further claims the alleged interventions by the Chinese government undermine free competition and require urgent action from the EU to re-establish a level playing field in terms of tuna trade flows.

Europêche added that any harmful subsidy or tax relief granted to Chinese exporters should receive full attention from the European Commission and that the United States has issued already in April 2016 a formal request to the WTO asking for China to clarify fishery subsidies and bring them in line with WTO rules. However, this process seems to be far from completed since, according to Europêche, processing and export of tuna loins might come to Europe on unfair terms, being dumped or subsidised.

Europêche said it is alerted by the increasing import volumes of tuna loins flooding the EU market at low prices, which it claims are made possible on the one hand by the confronted subsidies from the Chinese government to their producers and on the other hand by EU import tariff derogations granted for 30,000-tonne tuna loins per year.

The press release also stated that a recent study reveals that China has expanded its uncontrolled distant-water fishing fleet to the point that China is threatening food security and the economies of coastal communities around the globe. According to this research, this has been possible thanks to tax exemptions, fuel subsidies, and ship construction subsidies which are hardly ever made public by the Chinese authorities.

Europêche argues that Chinese seafood products therefore compete unfairly with seafood produced sustainably by the EU fishing fleet but also with seafood suppliers from developing countries that export to the EU market under preferential market access conditions.

Javier Garat, President of Europêche, said it is “not acceptable” that countries which are linked to IUU fishing and serious labour abuses benefit from preferential market access and that it should be rather the opposite.

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