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EU may buy more chicken from Thailand

Thailand's chicken industry could benefit as the EU is likely to reinstate its import quota for Thai salted chicken next year, reports state.

The EU banned Thai salted chicken products in 2004 after reports began to emerge about bird flu outbreaks. Previously, it had allocated Thailand a quota of 92,610 t a year of salted chicken.

The EU has used a quota system for chicken from Thailand and Brazil, its major chicken supplier, since 2007 in an effort to protect its major producers in countries including the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

The EU had given Thailand a larger export quota allocation of 252,643 t: 160,033 t of processed chicken and 92,610 t of salted poultry. However, after the bird flu outbreak, Thailand failed to exercise its quota for salted poultry. In 2008, Thailand shipped 160,033 t of cooked chicken worth US$759 mln to the EU.

Under the quota, the tariff is 8% of the price per t. For chicken exported above the quota, the tariff is 53%.

Auswin Chotitawan, MD of Golden Line Business Co, a subsidiary of Saha Farm Group, said the reinstated quota for salted chicken would help raise Thailand's chicken exports by about $291 mln a year.

For the first 4 months, cooked chicken shipments were worth $447 mln. In 2008, total exports of the products were worth $1.56 bln.

Thai authorities and business executives also met recently with Renate Nikolay, a member of the cabinet of the EU Trade Commissioner in Belgium, asking the EU to scrap its import ban on fresh chicken from Thailand.

They noted that the country has been free from bird flu for over 200 days since 12 November 2008 under the guidelines of the World Organisation for Animal Health, said Krisda Piampongsant, an inspector-general with the Commerce Ministry.

Natalie Berkhout

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