India: Seafood export crosses 1 million tonne

Seafood export from India crossed 1 million tonne for the first time and the earnings crossed $4.5 billion during 2013-14, according to provisional estimates of the Marine Products Export Development Authority [MPEDA].

An increase of $1billion was recorded in just 12 months as exports were $3.5 billion during 2011-12 and 2012-13, a 30% rise.

In Rupee terms, the estimates indicate earnings of Rs 20,000 crore. In 2012-13 India exported 928,215 tonne of seafood, valued at 18,856.26 crore and in 2011-12 these were 862,021 tonne and Rs 16,597.23 crore respectively.

MPEDA now targets earnings of $10 billion by 2020.

This promising performance was due to two major factors - serious fall in the production and export of shrimp from South East Asian countries and the lowering of countervailing duty [CVD] on Indian shrimp in USA.

Production in South East Asian countries had been affected badly due to the spread of a disease called Early Mortality Syndrome [EMS]. Supply from Thailand, world's second largest shrimp producer, dropped around 50% from their normal production size of 500,000 tonne per year. Likewise, other leading producers like Vietnam and Malaysia have been hit badly.

India cashed in on this global situation and enhanced its exports to the South East Asian countries. Processing plants in East Asian countries had to depend on imports from India to meet their commitments with European and US importers.

Countries like Vietnam, China and Thailand imported more shipments from India last year, mainly for re-export.

"Rise in local demand in Korea also caused warming up of global prices," said Anwar Hashim, leading exporter and former president of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI).

Spread of EMS also caused shrimp prices to increase across the world and this in turn helped the steep rise in earnings, he added.

However, USA was the largest market for Indian shrimps in dollar terms as the country imported 51.24% of the total Indian shrimp exports. This was followed by 16.10% to South East Asian countries, 15.82% to EU and 4.94% to Japan.

Increase in the production of Vannamei shrimp, rise in the productivity of Black tiger variety of shrimp and increase in export of chilled items also helped to achieve higher exports, MPEDA said.

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