KOCHI: In what appears to be a case of a non-tariff barrier being imposed on shrimp exports from India, the European Union (EU) recently made it mandatory for 50 per cent of each consignment to be tested, against the earlier 10 per cent. Indeed, some in the seafood industry believe the move is aimed at arm-twisting India into making some trade concessions to the EU.
“There is no justifiable reason for increasing the EU import-surveillance norms. Normally, such measures are taken when frequency of rejections is on the rise. However, there are no such reports,” Norbert Karikkassery, President, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) — Kerala Region, said recently.
“The trade feels that the measures adopted by the EU on Indian shrimp exports are a pressure tactic to obtain some benefits from India for EU trade,” he said.
The total value of India’s shrimp exports in 2015-16 was a little over $3 billion (about Rs. 20,000 crore). Of this, the European Union accounted for $970 million (about Rs. 6,300 crore)
The EU is the third-largest market for overall seafood exports from India after the US and South-East Asia, accounting for 20.71 per cent of the export value in dollar terms. Quantity-wise, it is the second largest destination, taking up 19.70 per cent of the 945,892 tonnes of seafood exported from the Country in 2015-16.
On its part, the seafood industry is working with the Government to find a solution. Ironically, all consignments are exported after being tested in Government labs and getting a clearance certificate.
“So, the Government has to take equal responsibility along with other stakeholders, if any consignment is detained with any forbidden substance. The Government needs to upgrade the testing infrastructure in its labs,” said Kamlesh Gupta, CMD of WestCoast Group, a prominent seafood exporter.
However, A Jayathilak, Chairman, Marine Products Export Development Authority, said that campaigns / awareness programmes at the producer level have been intensified to encourage producers to follow better management practices.
The Andhra Pradesh Government, for instance, has initiated efforts to curtail the use of banned substances at the producer level by constituting district- and State-level committees. The Centre has urged other Coastal States to take similar action.