India has raised concerns over the increase in rejection of shrimp shipments from the country by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) owing to its “stringent’’ testing requirements and has asked Washington to address the problem.
New Delhi, in its submission during the US’ trade policy review at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) recently, said it is ready to engage with Washington on the issue to see how the situation could be eased.
“India is one of the largest exporters of shrimps to the US. The US FDA testing requirements and other recent measures are placing a considerable burden on our exporters,” the submission made by India said.
As per figures supplied by the US industry, of the total rejection of 63 consignments of shrimp by the US FDA in 2018 (till October) for presence of salmonella, 55 consignments were from India. Further, of the total 43 shrimp shipments refused due to the presence of banned antibiotics, 15 were from India.
“The FDA’s continued and repeated detection of salmonella or banned antibiotics in Indian shrimps raises important questions regarding the development and spread of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) pathogens in Indian aquaculture and the possibility that Indian shrimp imports may act as a vehicle for the introduction of AMR bacteria into the US,” as per a statement from the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), an organisation of shrimp fishermen and processors from the US. Many in the Indian industry and government, however, see the rejections as a non-tariff barrier due to the sharp increase in shrimp exports from the country. Over the last eight years, India’s export of non-breaded frozen warmwater shrimp to the US grew seven-fold to $2.2 billion in 2017, making it the most significant supplier in the US market.
Last year, India accounted for 35 per cent of the volume of all US imports of non-breaded frozen warmwater shrimp, up from 6 per cent in 2010.
“The testing done by USFDA has become much more aggressive recently resulting in the increased rejections. India wants more transparency on the reasons for the rejection and also a discussion on whether the standards should be brought down to reasonable limits,” a government official told BusinessLine.
India’s submission also pointed out that onerous requirements related to irradiation, testing and complex SPS (sanitary & phytosanitary) requirements were also affecting export of farm products like mangoes, honey and grapes.
Trade policies of all WTO members are periodically reviewed, which includes peer group assessment. Problem areas are pointed out by other members and explanations and remedies sought.