On January 8, 2019, the European Union (EU) announced to lift the so-called “Yellow Card" or warning on Thailand for our substantial progress in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Although the removal helps improve the image of Thai seafood products, such exports the EU will hinge largely on their competitiveness, given that we are at a disadvantage in that market against such major rivals as Vietnam, India and Ecuador in many ways, including taxes, special trade privileges, their rising output, labor costs and the appreciating Baht.
Looking into 2019, we at KResearch expect that Thai seafood shipments to the EU will revert to growth for the first time in eight years at 0.0-2.0 percent YoY or USD400-410 million. However, close attention must be paid to protectionism, in particular stringent quality controls. Moreover, Thai seafood exporters may need to improve their products regularly to meet consumption trends in the EU as they tend to change with economic conditions there.
Thai seafood exports to China may continue to perform well due to a supply shortage in the world's most populous nation. However, there are several factors that warrant close monitoring, including the US-China trade dispute and anemic Chinese economy. Given this, we project that the value of Thai seafood exports globally in 2019 will grow at the same par as reported for 2018.