China halts some Indian cuttlefish imports after COVID-19 found on packages

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/15 21:53:29

A man collects washed-up plastic items from a beach in Goa, India on Tuesday. Out of the ten rivers that drain over 90 percent of the total plastic debris into the sea globally, there are three flowing through India - the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. Photo: AFP

Chinese Customs has halted some Indian cuttlefish imports after certain packaging tested positive for COVID-19, a move that could affect Indian seafood export industry, experts said.

China on Friday announced to suspend declaration for imported cuttlefish of Indian company M/s.Basuinternational(UnitI) for one week, after three packages of a batch of frozen cuttlefish tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

India's aquatic product exports account for a major part of its ocean-based "Blue Economy" proposed by the Modi administration and the suspension of some exports to China, a prominent market, could affect its struggling economy amid the difficulties of the pandemic, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

India's seafood exports to China grew by a record of about 42 percent to $1 billion from January-November in 2019, according to the Marine Products Export Development Authority, and they accounted for nearly 15 percent of its total exports, The Economic Times reported.

However, India's seafood sector has faced a demand slump in China, where many importers have halted purchases amid the pandemic.

"Compared with other countries, Indian seafood - in particular ribbon fish - is cheap, tasty and very popular in the Chinese market. However, I halted imports from India after the pandemic got out of control in the country," Cao Jie, a Shanghai-based India ribbon fish processor, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The temporary ban on some Indian seafood is completely expected given India's poor handling of the pandemic, experts said.

"China's move to suspend some Indian imports is a reasonable one to protect its people, not retaliation," Zhao said. "It is almost impossible for India to have the capacity to carry out strict tests of its seafood products before exporting them to China as the pandemic is 'out of control' in the country." 

He predicted that the impact of COVID-19 on Indian seafood exports may continue for some time.

India had reported more than 8.8 million coronavirus cases as of Sunday, more than any other country besides the US.

Newspaper headline: China halts Indian cuttlefish imports after virus found on packaging


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