The shrimp sector invested about $ 400 million in recent years. José Antonio Camposano, president of the Chamber of Aquaculture, details in what these capitals were concentrated and how international prices threaten projects still in execution, because in 2018 the sector grew 20% in volume, but only 8% in turnover.
In what period were those $ 400 million invested?
From 2013 to 2017, the total investment between the three links of the shrimp chain: Shrimp farming and fattening; foods; and processing and export; It reached almost $ 400 million, which plus minus 1.3% of the total investments of the Ecuadorian economy.
In which of the segments was the investment concentrated?
There are very important investments in processing: Santa Priscilla with two new plants, Omarsa with one, Songa with another; also in food factory: Skretting, Vitapro, Biomar, Cargill. But there are also other investments that do not reach the headlines of the news, those of the aquaculture lagoons, which between 2014 and 2017 reached almost $ 190 million, 57% of the total investment of the sector.
What influenced the investments in those years to be more dynamic?
There is a process of continuous improvement that was boosted by a price situation in 2013, there were more resources, which made the shrimp trawler, who already knew what it was to be affected by various diseases, do not take resources out of the country, but to invest them in their own farms, to technify and improve.
Did this boom stay in 2018 and this year?
The investments are not made year by year, they are part of projects of several years of execution (…). What has been noticed, at the end of 2017, throughout 2018 and 2019; is that in some cases they put on stand-by certain investment processes unmotivated by the fall in international prices.
In what type of investment does it happen?
I have had specific cases, one is a large group that registered their legal entity with x number of hectares and then told us that of the 900 hectares that had been announced would only consider 245 because of the prices, they decided to wait and go little by little with the 600 missing hectares. I think the international price should be considered, not an alert, but as a traffic light.
What can the sector do to offset the price?
We cannot control the price situation, it is supply and demand, but there are factors that can help us compete better. All this work of the business sector requires the government counterpart in the commercial agenda, we must look at Asia more aggressively.
Is Asia your north?
Yes, it is necessary to work more aggressively in markets with capacity to absorb the volume that Ecuador generates, we have China, South Korea, where there are obstacles, we have to work them, we must stop paying tariffs in China, 5% tariff or 2%, we are working with the authorities, it requires a lot of attention. (I)