The stalemate over shrimp exports is taking a toll on India's exports to Japan. This is despite efforts to resolve the issue by the commerce ministry and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
In July, owing to the detection of anti-oxidant ethoxyquin in shrimp consignments to Japan, that country had rejected the consignments. This led to exports from Odisha and West Bengal dropping about 50 per cent in the last four-five months, said Taj Mohammed, regional president of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI). He told Business Standard the issue wasn't resolved yet and the export sector was facing tough times.
MPEDA chairperson Leena Nair and Export Inspection Council director S K Saxena have visited Japan and discussed the issue with the authorities. However, a resolution of the issue remains elusive. SEAI president Ravi Reddy said Japan had set up a committee to study the ethoxyquin issue and would take a decision based on a report by the panel. He added now, exports were gathering pace. The harvesting season in West Bengal and Odisha is almost over. Shrimp farming in the next season (beginning March-April) wouldn't be affected, as by then, the issue was likely to be settled, he added.
The aquaculture sector in the eastern regions of India is facing a dismal scenario, as the majority of black tiger shrimp produced here is exported to Japan. This has led to a substantial fall in the prices of shrimps in the global markets. In the last three-four months, prices dropped 25-35 per cent.
India's marine product exports in the April-June period were low, as the products lost sheen in major export markets like Europe, the US and Japan. Anwar Hashim, a leading exporter and former president of SEAI, said Europe, America, Japan and China had reduced their buying, owing to the recession. Cumulative exports in the April-June period fell to 1,31,000 tonnes, valued at Rs 2,700 crore, against 1,65,000 tonnes, valued at Rs 2,870 crore, in the year-ago period. This was a drop of 20 per cent in volume and five per cent in value. In dollar terms, the fall was 20 per cent. In 2011-12, Japan imported 85,800 tonnes, valued at Rs 2,140 crore.
Europe and the US wanted to import only low-value items, said Hashim. There is concern among exporters on the US, Europe and Japan fronts, as these three countries account for 55 per cent of the total exports from India.
In value terms, this is 65 per cent of the total earnings. In 2011-12, India exported 8,62,021 tonnes of marine products, valued at Rs 16,597 crore. The cumulative import of Europe, Japan and the US stood at 3,08,375 tonnes, valued at Rs 8,928 crore.