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Brazil, Ecuador shrimp trade dispute deepens as new accusations arise

Ecuador is calling on Brazil to prove claims of shrimp disease presence in the country -- or to retract them publicly.

The long-lasting dispute between Brazil and Ecuador on their shrimp trade is continuing with parties from both countries presenting their cases in court.

The argument -- which dates back to 1999 when Brazil closed its borders to shrimp imports to focus on domestic production -- continues despite a decision made by the Brazilian Federal District Court earlier this year, granting permission to Ecuadorian producers to sell shrimp tails in Brazil.

“Brazil is now claiming there are 13 shrimp diseases present in Ecuador and only four in Brazil, I am asking for proof of that, or for a public retraction,” Jose Antonio Camposano, president of Ecuador’s Chamber of Aquaculture, told IntraFish.

According to Camposano, Brazil previously claimed 25 diseases were present in Ecuador, but the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) concluded only seven diseases were found -- and were common to both countries.

“I know how this works, they’ve done this before, they have insufficiency in their shrimp production and yet continue with their protectionist model,” Camposano said.

Ecuadorian exporters will continue to export shrimp tails into Brazil, an under-supplied market that is willing to buy the product.

“There is a deficit of 65,000 metric tons of shrimp in Brazil, and even though businesses need the products and there’s market for more, the [Brazilian] association of producers wants to have its borders closed,” Camposano said.

“They implemented this protectionist model and didn’t invest enough in the industry because it was only for domestic supply, and now they have the most expensive shrimp in the world, we have market there and we will continue to sign contracts with importers.”

Brazil decided to focus on its domestic markets almost two decades ago, when the United States imposed anti-dumping duties to shrimp producing countries around the world.

At the moment, only shrimp tails from Ecuador are allowed into the country, something Ecuador “respects,” although in the future it will aim to diversify its export portfolio to Brazil, Camposano said.

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