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Japan Raises Ethoxyquin Limits on Viet Nam Shrimp

Crustaceans Sustainability Economics +6 more

VIET NAM - Japan is considering raising the maximum residue limits (MRL) for Ethoxyquin (ETQ) on shrimp from Viet Nam to 0.2 ppm, 20 times higher than the current level of 0.01ppm.

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According to VASEP, on 29 November 2013, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) approved the MRL for ETQ on Viet Nam shrimp and then reported it to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The final decision on the MRL of ETQ is expected to be officially announced by the end of January 2014 by MHLW.

In 2012, ETQ inspection by Japan on Viet Nam shrimp took a heavy toll on Viet Nam's shrimp exports. Viet Nam’s shrimp consignments must be tested for ETQ five times (from raw shrimp to exported products), leading to increasing costs for exporters. Shrimp exports to the market in 2012 were up only 1.7 per cent over 2011.

In the first six months of 2012, Viet Nam shrimp exports to Japan posted a year-on-year growth of 28 per cent. However, shrimp shipment to the market started to fall sharply after Japan inspected ETQ residue on 30 per cent of shrimp consignments imported from Viet Nam with MRL of 0.01 ppm in May 2012.

In late August 2012, Japan decided to test ETQ residue on all shrimp consignments from Viet Nam. Thus, shrimp exports to the market remained two-digit reduction in the last six months of 2012.

During the past time, Viet Nam’s competent authorities and enterprises have taken great efforts to minimize ETQ residue in exported shrimp.

Viet Nam’s authorities sent Japan’s relevant agencies official letters to recommend Japan raise MRL for ETQ in shrimp to 1ppm, similar to that for finfish.

Recently, National Agro Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) recommended MHLW to re-establish MRL for ETQ from 0.01ppm currently to 1ppm. Besides, Viet Nam shrimp exporters strengthened to control ETQ residue from shrimp farming to processing.

According to safety alerts of food imported into Japan, until November 25 2013, the number of shrimp consignments exported to the market that contain Ethoxyquin residue has reduced to four, from 17 of last year.

In January 2013, Viet Nam shrimp exports to Japan started to recover because ETQ problem was improved. Through October 2013, shrimp exports to the market enjoyed a year-on-year growth of 13 per cent to reach US$574.5 million. Moreover, Viet Nam shrimp exports to Japan were further boosted thanks to Thailand’s shortfall of raw shrimp caused by EMS and rise in global shrimp price.

The volume of frozen raw shrimp accounted for 69 per cent of Japan’s total shrimp imports. Through September 2013, Viet Nam surpassed Thailand to claim the first position in supplying frozen shrimp to Japan with 24,806 MT, up 8.1 per cent. While Thailand exported 15,964 MT of frozen shrimp to the market, down 38 per cent because of vast decline in shrimp output due to EMS.

Until September 2013, export value of Viet Nam frozen shrimp to Japan reported the growth of 37 per cent year-on-year owing to increase in average import price of frozen shrimp into the market.