Indian seafood exporters distressed over tightening Chinese market

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Monday, 08 February 2021 15:38

INDIA: Seafood exporters in India are becoming

increasingly worried about difficulties shipping to China in advance of the Lunar New Year holiday.

In the latter half of 2020, Chinese authorities reportedly detected coronavirus on the packaging of imported seafood and, in response, imposed bans on a number of exporters and implemented strict inspection measures on seafood imports. As a result, a huge number of containers of imported frozen seafood have piled up in the Chinese ports of Dalian and Tianjin as local authorities conduct COVID testing, which is now required for all seafood products passing through customs.


Local governments in China have also taken aggressive measures against imported seafood over COVID concerns. In December, authorities in the north-westerly city of Xi’an, a large city in China, banned vendors from selling or stocking imported seafood. And an exporter in Gujarat’s Veraval City told his firm has many containers stuck in Tianjin because his Chinese buyers are not allowed to sell any imported seafood in the local market. The ban may relate to Chinese authorities’ efforts to ensure safety during the coming Lunar New Year holiday, which lasts from 11 to 17 February. With his Chinese partners are unable to pay, the exporter is eating all costs of the shipment thus far.Given the difficulties he’s encountered, the Gujarati exporter is considering moving his business out of China.


Naeem Banglawala, an organic shrimp farm operator with 100 hectares of farms in Gujarat  and director of a company that supplies raw material to processors and exporters, told on 25 January he is not aware of any ban on exports to China. But exporters he knows have told that they are encountering problems in finding freight capacity, including trouble confirming vessels, delays in clearance, and as a result, postponed payments. They hope the situation will improve by the end of this quarter, he said.


However, the slowdown in China’s purchasing of seafood products from India is a longer-term trend, ongoing since a border dispute in 2020. There has been a noted slowdown in customs clearance in Chinese ports for shrimp shipments from India since June 2020, with average customs clearance timetable rising from three to 10 days over last summer.


Those delays have created difficulties for Indian farmers and exporters, especially in Gujarat and Kerala, which were already suffering economically due to the pandemic. Exporters in Kerala are expecting their revenue to fall between 30 to 40 percent in this fiscal year, which ends 31 March, off IRN 50 billion (USD 683.5 million, EUR 564.3 million) in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.


Another industry source in Andhra Pradesh told demand for seafood from Chinese buyers had dropped further in the past few weeks. But he said orders from China are likely to resume after China’s Lunar New Year, when prices in India are likely to decline. He added that the main market for most Indian packers remains the U.S. and that China is a back-up market utilized when shrimp prices drop.


Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) Kerala Chapter President said many local seafood exporters are facing a tough time due to the difficulties in exporting to China. His association has approached the India government for help, but hasn’t yet received a response. The difficulties facing seafood exporters have affected India’s entire supply chain, with fishermen forced to significantly cut their days at sea. The All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association has also sought for support from the central government. The association’s general secretary, said the fishing community has been hit hard by local pandemic-related lockdowns, and that many fishermen and boat workers have fallen into extreme poverty.


Source: SeafoodSource


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