EU Delays Action On Indian Seafood Imports

Written by Malcolm Subhan | Brussels, September 22: | Updated: Sep 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
The European Commission (EC), executive arm of the 15-nation EU, has temporarily placed on hold a European Union (EU) decision to inspect all consignments of seafood imported from India. This action has been taken on the assurance of the Government of India that a total ban imposed by it of the use of pesticides and pharmacologically active substances in the production and processing of seafood, on July 11, will result in their complete elimination, within the next two to three months.

EU ban would have hit Indian exports of fish and shrimp. India has assured EC that while shipments already in the pipeline may carry traces of the banned substances, this will no longer be the case within two to three months.

The Export Inspection Cou-ncil of India will make sure that seafood products containing substances banned by EU are not cleared for export.

The EUs food and veterinary authority was expected to take a decision last week on whether to substantially increase the number of inspections for the banned substances or to inspect every consignment from India. The banned substances are chloramphenicol and nitrofurans. This decision is now on hold.

Complete checks would result in a 10 per cent increase in the cost of each consignment. Consignments with unacceptably high levels of the banned substances would be destroyed. All this clearly would create uncertainty for Indian exports, resulting in a potential trade loss of anywhere up to $200 million.

The ECs decision not to proceed with 100 per cent inspection is only a temporary measure, however. Indian seafood producers and processors must heed the warning, and make sure they respect the ban fully. EU currently inspects seaf-ood consignments from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan for the banned substances. Consign-ments with unacceptably high levels of these substances are destroyed. India has so far been exempted of such inspections but may be brought into its ambit if required action is not taken by exporters.