VAT rise unites Spanish fish industry
By Chris Dove, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain
01 October, 2012
The Spanish government’s imposition of a value-added tax (VAT) increase from 8 to 10 percent on 1 September, a 25 percent increase, has prompted growing discontent in the industry.
Ahead of a meeting in Madrid this week, key organizations have joined forces to call for a 4 percent VAT rate as applied to other agro products. Representatives from the National Association of Wholesale Fish Merchants (Anmape), the National Federation of Fish Retailers (FEDEPESCA), the Spanish Fishing Federation (Cepesca), frozen fish association Conxemar, and aquaculture associations APROMAR and AQUAPISCIS are studying a strategic plan to encourage the central government to consider fish a staple product and therefore reduce the tax.
Anmape fears negative consequences for the whole industry. “Months ago it was being harmed after the fall in sales across our network and in consumption, some 40 percent and 5 percent, respectively,” said Manuel Pablos Leguspín, Anmape president.
“Spend on fish products accounts for around 12 percent of all food in the Spanish shopping cart,” Leguspín explained, claiming “good fish is a primary necessity following recommendations by the World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Agency and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition to eat a minimum two to four fish servings per week to ensure a healthy diet.”
FEDEPESCA represents 11,000 companies and 50 percent of Spain’s commercial fish trade, and warns of “thousands of closures of shops” jeopardizing the sector’s 24,000 retail jobs. Pointing to 1992 VAT law citing fish among “substances and active products for human nutrition” at 7 percent intake with 4 percent intake advised for bread, milk, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, FEDEPESCA President Gonzalo González Puente has asked the Minister for Economy and Finance: “Is fish a less basic food than cheese or eggs?"
Supporting the 4 percent rate for aquaculture, APROMAR and AQUAPISCIS fear a “sharp rise” in the price of feed, which constitutes 50 percent of production costs. Britain applies no VAT on fish, while France and Germany each apply a 7 percent VAT.
The industry is anxiously awaiting a government decision. “We’re not so much interested in ‘when’ as ‘how,’” said Luis Bustos Pueche, FEDEPESCA managing director.
01 October, 2012