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Tough Year Ahead for Uruguay's Fish Exports

20 January 2014

URUGUAY - Following on two years of poor performance, Uruguay's fishing industry is expected to face similar conditions in 2014, with ongoing labour disputes and tougher international markets.

From 1 January 2014, Uruguay is now classed as a high-middle class country which means that the special tariff benefits by the EU on fish exports have now ended.

Likewise Nigeria that was the main buyer of croaker exports (70 per cent), closed its market to all fisheries imports in October 2013, reports MercoPress.

Ricardo Piñeiro, president of Uruguay's fishing vessels Chamber, CAPU, said he anticipates another tough year.

“It should be better than last year, but we have no elements to guarantee this will be the case. With no sales of croaker to Nigeria we will have to press for other markets and a fall in prices can be expected, since that is how new markets operate,” said Mr Piñeiro.

Uruguay's fisheries exports last year totaled $135 million, 25 per cent less than the previous year, 2012 when they reached $180 million. 2012 also recorded an 18 per cent drop compared to 2011 when overseas sales reached $219 million, according to the statistics from the country's Exporters' Union.

In 2013 there was an additional factor which influenced activities negatively: with the end of the labor contract, the union and CAPU had to negotiate new salaries and working conditions which was not an easy ride since it was supported by a strike that had the fleet docked for over four months.
Finally an agreement was reached and is effective until 2016, but given the prospects, further conflicts are not discarded.

Daniel Gilardoni, head of Uruguay's National Aquatic Resources Department, told the MercoPress that the country is working with Iceland and Norway to try and reopen the Nigerian market and is preparing to send a trade delegation to Lagos.

“If this situation is confirmed and Nigeria limits fisheries imports, we will face a new scenario since we could be before specific 'trade discrimination' against Uruguay and this enables us to try the WTO option”.

TheFishSite News Desk

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