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Indian seafood exporters are relieved over the favourable disposition of a two-member European Union (EU) inspection team that visited their facilities recently. The team is reported to have expressed its satisfaction over the marine product export procedure followed in the country and ruled out imposition of any fresh restriction in this regard.
"It seems export procedures are properly in place (in India) and no new restrictions are expected from the EU, unless there is a sudden change, for example, an increase in Rapid Alerts at the EU border," said a UK-based trade source.
The team visited select seafood processing facilities in Odisha and Tamil Nadu, the leading exporting states, for about 10 days in November 2017. They had visited the fishing harbour in Paradip, the processing units of Falcon Marine Exports and Shimpo Seafoods in Bhubaneswar, and farms in Astaranga in Puri district. They also inspected the units of Magnum Seafood Pvt Ltd.
The EU team followed up its visits to Odisha and Tamil Nadu with a meeting involving officials of the Union commerce ministry and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
There were problems identified with primary production – monitoring of farms and farm inputs – and the Indian authorities are expected to deal with them over the next few months, the abovementioned trade source added.
Quality issues flagged off by the EU and the buzz about a ban on Indian imports had left the exporters jittery. The EU is the third-largest market for Indian seafood exporters, behind the US and South East Asia.
In 2016, the EU had strengthened its inspection norms for aquaculture products sent from India. Earlier, the norm was testing samples from at least 10 per cent of the consignments, which was enhanced to 50 per cent in 2016.
The 50 per cent checks are likely to remain, sources said.
The EU accounts for about 18 per cent of the country's seafood exports valued at $5.7 billion.
There was a growing concern that the EU is seriously worried over the use of antibiotics in Indian shrimps — a fact that has surfaced continuously in its findings. It is also dissatisfied with the response it got from the Indian authorities and was, thus, considering a ban.