Brussels urged to address unfair competition from Turkish trout

Published on
July 26, 2019

With European Union rainbow trout farmers facing unfair competition from imported subsidized portion-size Turkish producers and exporters, the Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC) has called on the European Commission to find a “lasting mutually agreeable solution” with the Turkish government that grants the E.U. trout farmers an equal chance of success. 

E.U. farmers welcome competition from third-countries if such competition takes place on a level playing field and at volumes and prices that allow a healthy competition environment, said AAC, a stakeholder-led representative organization that provides the European Commission and E.U. countries with recommendations on aquaculture management. It advised that delivering such a solution would be in the interest of both the E.U. and the Turkish government, and would bring long-term legal certainty. 

While countervailing duties have been in place in the E.U. since 2015 to prevent this kind of unfair competition from Turkish imports, AAC highlighted that the Turkish government “constantly changes” its trout farmers’ subsidy programs in order to avoid countervailing duties. 

“Today, Turkish trout farmers continue to receive subsidies which allow them to import into the E.U. at prices which are very close – if not below – E.U. farmers’ cost of production. The long-term sustainability of the E.U. aquaculture industry requires that such unfair practices are tackled in a lasting manner,” it said. “In addition, the E.U. aquaculture industry has been informed that the Greek authorities have seized a truckload of illegally imported trout (no countervailing duty paid) from Turkey and that the products were subsequently destroyed. This shows that while countervailing duties are currently in place, their effectiveness is hindered by illegal trade taking place.”

AAC suggested that the E.U. delegation in Turkey is in a good position to share the E.U. trout farmers concerns and to seek a mutually agreeable solution. 

In terms of timing it is essential that a solution is found no later than September/October, it said.

If no solution is found, AAC said that E.U. farmers will have to lodge an expiry review on November 2019 and continue the endless disputes that will not tackle the problem at the source and consequently will not create a stable and lasting commercial environment beneficial for any of the two sides concerned. 

The call to find a solution to the subsidized Turkish trout was one of four new recommendations for the sustainable development of the E.U. aquaculture sector put forward by AAC. The other three are:

  • Promotion of the use of fish vaccines replacing the use of antimicrobials – with the recommendation that in the next EMFF period (2021-2027) vaccines and the dissemination of effective vaccination strategies can be considered eligible for receiving public aid
  • Ratio of marine ingredients in fish feeds known as “fish-in, fish-out” (FIFO) – whereby other ingredients used in aquafeeds such as trimmings and other raw materials are subjected to the same level of scrutiny applied to marine-source materials, while also of stressing the need to reduce FIFO 
  • Fish welfare at slaughter – advising support for development of new technology, best practice and maximizing value

Established in late 2016, AAC presently has 57 members from 16 E.U. member states. 

Image courtesy of the Aquaculture Advisory Council

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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