China has emerged as a prominent buyer of Indian seafood, particularly the shrimp, in 2019 with export to the country registering the highest growth of about 42%.
Indian seafood export to China reached $1 billion in January-November 2019, according to Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
In the same period of the previous year it was around $700 million.
China is importing more to bridge the gap between rising demand and inadequate supply. "Aquaculture shrimp production in the country is not enough to meet its rising consumption. With Chinese New Year approaching by the end of January, higher shrimp import is likely to continue," said Anwar Hashim, MD of Abad Fisheries. China is the largest producer of the shrimp with an output of 1million tonnes, bulk of which is internally consumed in the country.
Besides insufficient production, a rise in direct imports by China after its stricter monitoring of illegal border trade with Vietnam has also contributed to growth in its seafood imports. Exporters further reckon that a fall in pork production may have led to increased consumption of fish and other meat.
China had lowered tariff on many seafood items last year to encourage import and feed rising consumption.
China's rise may help check India's over dependence on the US, currently the top buyer of Indian seafood with around 33% share of the annual Indian seafood export worth over Rs 46,500 crore.
In comparison, China's share is just 15%. But in terms of export growth at 42% China is far ahead of the US (13%) in 2019. Besides, exporters said, the US shrimp prices have also remained below par during most of the year.
Exporters have raised concern on the tighter quality norms by China in the last couple of months.