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Europe Tightens Up On Seafood Imports

INDIA - With seafood exports to India's biggest export destination, the EU, facing turbulent days ahead, the trade is beginning to look to the East for succour and safety.

Exports to the EU are beginning to get tougher and costlier as new conditions such as inspection of 20 per cent of aquaculture export consignments have become mandatory,” Mr Anwar Hashim, President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), told The Hindu Business Line.

“On an average, each consignment held over for additional inspection will entail a delay of 10 days. For the importer it is a nuisance delay of 10 days for his import consignment. For the exporter it will entail greater expenditure as he will have to bear the additional demurrage duty of those additional 10 days,” Mr Kenny Thomas, Managing Director of Ginny Marine, said. Mr Thomas is a Gujarat-based seafood exporter and 95 per cent of his total exports valued at €10 million is targeted at the EU.

The new LCs will also have to incorporate conditions stipulating that the exporter will have to bear the additional demurrage duties as well as the cost involved in shipping the consignment out of EU if it is rejected, Mr Thomas said. However, he pointed out that most of the established exporters from India would have built up long standing relationships with their EU importers and the threat of the buyer sourcing his import requirement to another exporter in another country is slim. But for the new and inexperienced exporters the chances of increased loss of business can be high.

Analytical test reports

All aquaculture products exported from India are to be accompanied by analytical test reports on the absence of of chloromphenicol, tetracycline, oxytetracycline, chlorotetracycline and metabolites of nitrofuran, or that they are at permitted levels, the European Commission decision No 2010/381/EU has stated. The decision, which has come into force for Indian exports from July 9, 2010, also states that the EU will subject at least 20 per cent of aquaculture imports from India to the above parameters at the Border Inspection Ports.

Explaining the complexity of the new decision, Mr Hashim pointed out that there are 85-90 entry points into the EU and there is uncertainty as to how the procedure will be implemented. The new procedures could put off the EU importers as they will not be sure if their import contracts could go for extra inspection and thereby delay arrivals at their warehouses and ultimately to the shop shelves in the European supermarkets. Some of them are likely to explore the possibilities of confirmed deliveries from other sources, export sources said.

Focus on Russia, Vietnam

The EU was the biggest export destination for Indian marine products and accounted for 30.07 per cent of the total value last year. The year also saw the East overtaking the West in the total value of marine exports, with China accounting for 17.73 per cent, South-East Asia with 14.61 per cent and Japan with 12.96 per cent of the value. Indian seafood exports to new destinations such as Russia and Vietnam have great potential, the exporters said.

With the active promotion of both the governments, Indian seafood exports to Russia and Vietnam are becoming more favourable, The Government of India and Russia have signed an MoU under which seafood trade also figures prominently. Under the MoU, exporters from India are supposed to register with the Russian health authority for exporting seafood to that country. Already 62 exporters have registered for exports to Russia, Mr Hashim said.

India has substantial capacity built up for bulk exports and less in value added exports. With an army of skilled and dedicated workforce, Vietnam is looking at Indian bulk seafood exports for value addition and re-export from its shores. Indian exporters with good production facilities have been invited to export to Vietnam. Around 26 Indian exporters have already registered with the Vietnam authorities for exports, Mr Hashim said.

the Fish Site Editor

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