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1.1 Objectives

This paper analyses the development of trade in fish products in the light of the trade liberalization resulting from the agreements negotiated in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, initially under the aegis of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), latterly the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The study focuses on eight countries, chosen with regard to geographical variety, and including both “developed” and “developing” countries. The countries are Brazil, India, Korea (Republic of), Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and South Africa.

The analyses make use of trade statistics taken from the FAO Fishstat database and from various national statistical publications. Figures do not always correspond due to different approaches in compiling and presenting data. In particular, it was not always clear whether or not harvested marine plants were included in global totals.

Not all increases in trade follow directly from trade liberalization schemes. Some developments reflect other political changes, such as the changes in eastern European politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall, or in the South African political system after apartheid was abolished. Also, conditions for production, natural variations, etc., will have an impact on international trade. This paper does not aim to explain the reasons for the developments in the fishery industry, but will only try to indicate the trends in the international trade of these countries.

A constraint to identifying whether a change in trade comes as a result of the Uruguay Round is that the data are not recent enough to see many relevant changes, as the full implementation of the tariff reductions were not completed until 1 January 1999, and some trade statistics were not available for 1999.

1.2 Background

The Seventh Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, held in Bremen, Germany, 22-25 March 2000, considered proposals put forward by members regarding future studies. One proposal was to study the impact of the Uruguay Round agreements on fish exports and adaptation of developing and developed countries to changes in fish import regimes in major markets.

1.3 The Uruguay Round

The Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations negotiated a number of agreements, some more important for the fishery sector than others. This paper will not go into detail about the various agreements, but refers the reader to the following GLOBEFISH Research Programme publications for more information:

- Volume 32. Trade Regulations and Trends in the USA, the European Union and Japan.

- Volume 32 (Suppl.). Tariff concessions.

- Volume 38. Impact of the Uruguay Round on international fish trade.

- Volume 65. Effect of World Trade Organization’s regulation on world fish trade.

1.4 Method

One expects trade to increase when trade regulations are liberalized. A way of establishing whether such a trend appears is to analyse trade development before and after the liberalization process. The tariff reductions agreed upon in the Uruguay Round were, however, not to be completely implemented until 1 January 1999. As the statistical data available in some cases does not include 1999, the full impact of the reductions can not be measured here. Also trade liberalization in itself does not create a market, hence the possibilities that the liberalization opens may not be measurable for a long time.

Still, this analysis tries to identify general trends in trade for the eight target countries. The total seafood exports and imports, as well as the figures on commodity levels, are analysed. To see the changes that trade liberalization makes, it is also important to study developments in relation to trading partners. If there is an increase in trade, does the relationship between exporting and importing countries change? Are there traditional trade links between these countries? Are there bilateral agreements that primarily regulate the trade? Or is it more likely that the agreements of the WTO Uruguay Round are the one factor having the biggest impact on this development?

One problem in effecting this analysis was the availability of complete trade statistics. The author was unable to procure sufficient trade data on trading partners for some of the target countries. Instead, more general data on some commodity groups have been used. This will not help to identify developing trends, but should help to understand which countries are closer trading partners than others.

The increasing number of anti-dumping investigations initiated since 1995 show that liberalization has the effect of leaving counties with fewer choices in their reactions to perceived unwanted or unfair trade. Anti-dumping action has as a result become more and more common.

“Given that the 1990s, in particular their second half, have been characterized by significant trade liberalization, this increase in the use of anti-dumping has revived the fear that contingent protection instruments could be used to restrict the effect of tariff reductions or other liberalization measures on market access.” (WTO special studies)

This paper starts with a short overview of global trends. This is followed by a presentation of the eight target countries, including an economic overview, trade policies, production, exports, imports, trade partners and trade by commodity groups. Following this is a summary of the main findings by country. In the Appendix there are detailed charts of production for each country.

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