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Importers in the UK have sought New Delhi’s intervention to stop an imminent ban on Indian seafood exports by the European Union (EU).
The EU is apparently unhappy due to increasing incidences of traces of antibiotics being found in seafood products from India. In 2016-17, the EU accounted for 18 per cent of the $5.78-billion seafood exports from India.
The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) — which has importers, exporters, brokers and retailers as members — has in a letter to the commerce ministry stressed that a ban on Indian aquaculture shrimp might be implemented in two-three months. “During a very productive meeting on August 8, 2017, with Sarvesh Rai of the Indian Mission to the EU, we were informed that India has undertaken several steps to satisfy the European Commission. The indications we are receiving from the commission are that these are not enough,” John Hyman, chief executive officer of BFFF, wrote to Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The federation has urged the minister to redouble efforts to appease the commission and to prevent a ban. It has also asked India to overhaul the aquaculture export safety system. The federation has also offered its expertise and perspective to resolve the issue.
There is a real risk that the US Food and Drug Administration, which will look closely at the outcome of the European Union’s review, might review its own import procedures from India. The EU and the US together account for $1.5 billion of aquaculture shrimp exports from India. "We implore you to take this message very seriously," the BFFF added.
The European Commission is extremely dissatisfied with continued non-compliance and the lack of progress made by the Indian authorities. Last year, the EU had strengthened its inspection norms for aquaculture products from India. Earlier, the norm was to test samples from at least 10 per cent of the consignments. This was raised to 50 per cent in 2016.
Trade sources said there has been an increase in the number of rejections of Indian shrimps because of the presence of antibiotics. The EU is also believed to be directly banning factories whose products have been rejected.