India in talks with European Union to ease marine import norms

New Delhi | Published: April 1, 2017 6:28:58 AM

India is in talks with the European Union (EU) to ease their stringent regulations on marine imports.

“We met representatives from EU recently. We are in talks with them,” a senior government official said. (Reuters)

India is in talks with the European Union (EU) to ease their stringent regulations on marine imports. In October, the European Union had raised the testing of marine imports from 10% of consignments presented for import at border inspection posts on their territory to 50%, due to the widespread presence of antibiotics in the aquaculture farms. “We met representatives from EU recently. We are in talks with them,” a senior government official said.

According to the EU, it is possible to define a limit below which food containing such residue could be considered safe, but the commonly used antibiotics in aquaculture farms — chloramphenicol and nitrofuran — are considered potentially harmful at any level. Chloramphenicol could be fatal while nitrofuran is believed to cause damage to genes, which could lead to cancer.

“The cost of testing consignments will have to be borne by the exporters, which may not be profitable for running their processing units. We have been trying to convince EU in this regard… Marine exports form an important part of the total export basket,” the official said.

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With the consignment getting rejected in the EU, exporters are now looking at other markets. Their consignment is accepted in other countries most of the times, however, this has lead to the increase in their costs and shrinking margins, the official said.
In 2006-07, the EU was the largest market for Indian marine exports, accounting for nearly 33% of the total exports worth $1.8 billion.

The US is the largest market for Indian seafood products, with a share of 26.46% in terms of US dollars followed by Southeast Asia (25.71%), the European Union (20.08%), Japan (9.11%), West Asia (6.04%), China (4.02%) other countries (8.58%).
According to the data from the Marine Products Exports Development Authority, India’s total marine product exports was worth $4,687.94 million in 2015-16, down from $5,511.12 million a year ago.

– Surbhi Prasad

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