In a setback to seafood exports, the United States of America (USA), the largest importer (value wise) of Indian marine products has stepped up the testing measures for consignments shipped from India.
"The number of detentions in a single month in January is unprecedented. It has sparked panic among the exporters. The government needs to exert pressure on US at the bilateral relationship level on the move as it may give rise to rejections", said an exporter.
USA is the major importer of Indian seafood with a share of 28.46 per cent in terms of US dollar. It imported 153695 tonne of seafood worth of $1334.05 million in the last financial year. Frozen shrimp was the main item exported to USA with a share of 94.01 per cent in USD value.
This development has added to the woes of the exporters at a time when the European Union (EU) has tightened the norms for inspection of aquaculture products from India intended for human consumption.
EU, the third largest market for Indian shrimp exports in dollars terms, has enhanced the norm of testing of samples from at least 50 per cent of the consignments from 10 per cent earlier. The testing norms adopted by EU are after the results of analytical tests undertaken by official control laboratories demonstrated that the level of compliance of aquaculture products from India with regard to presence of residues of chloramphenicol, tetracycline, oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline and metabolites of nitrofurans is unsatisfactory.
South Africa too had detained about 100 containers at its ports for detection of cholera bacteria in consignments from India.
"With the increase in detentions (in USA), the probability of rejections is likely to be more which can cause worry to the exporters. There are no alternatives but to bring the containers back to India", said Ramesh Mohapatra, chairman, Magnum Seafood, a leading seafood exporter in the country and president, Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI).
The loss of returning one container back to India after rejection from US is pegged at Rs five to six lakh.