SLI-Report 2005:4

Competitiveness in fishery products – a Swedish perspective

Authors: Cecilia Hammarlund 

SLI has previously analysed competitiveness in Swedish agricultural production. In this report the same method is used to analyse competitiveness in fishery production. Fishery production and agricultural production both belong to the primary sector and are heavily affected by government intervention. The fishery sector, however, is different from the agricultural sector in one important aspect; the lack of properly defined property rights. This often results in over-fishing and excess capacity. As a result of this, it is more difficult to analyse competitiveness in fishery production. If countries over-use their fishery resources they will show short-run competitiveness, according to the indicators used in this report. Over-fishing will not provide competitiveness in the long run.

This report analyses competitiveness in fishery products world-wide as well as competitiveness in Swedish fishery production. Trade flows are used as indicators. However, there has been a problem with the official Swedish export statistics which include a large amount of Norwegian fishery exports. This is because Norwegian sellers to the EU-market often use companies that are registered in Sweden. In this report, the statistics have been adjusted to correctly present export figures and to be used to measure competitiveness in Swedish fishery production.

The conclusion of this report is that poor countries are more competitive than rich countries since fish exports are more important to the economies of poor countries. Competitiveness in fishery production decreases as other sectors of the economy develops. Middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank, are leaders of this development. Labour endowments have also played a part recently as China has become an important producer in some areas of fishery production.

Swedish competitiveness in fishery production is low and has not changed much over the last thirty years. There has been a shift in competitiveness from unprocessed fresh and chilled fish to prepared fish products. Swedish fishery exports are made out of those particular fish species that are found in waters around Sweden. Herring, sprat, cod and fish for reduction are important and competitive Swedish fish products. The quality of these products, however, is low compared to similar imported products. Processed Swedish fish products, on the other hand, are of a high quality.

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