US tightens two norms on import of shrimps
“This is a non-tariff barrier especially when we are engaged in a dialogue to resolve our trade issues,” an official in the know said. India’s seafood export rose 22% on year to $7.1 billion in 2017-18 with frozen shrimp and frozen fish being the prime items. Of this, almost $2.3 billion or 33% of the exports were to the US. Frozen shrimp was 95% of this in value terms. However, meeting these requirements will not be a tall task though they would incur some additional cost, as per the official. TEDs are not needed in country boats and most of India’s fishing happens through those, not large fishing vessels.
As for the traceability norms, the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) is stated to be the first phase of a risk based traceability programme that establishes permit, reporting and misrepresented seafood from entering the US. Exporters of shrimp have to report this data. Both these norms have to be complied with by December 31, 2018. Though the US restricts imports of shrimp harvested with fishing equipment, such as shrimp trawl nets not equipped with TEDs, that results in incidental sea turtle mortality, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Pakistan had challenged this law in the World Trade Organization (WTO) claiming that it was inappropriate for the US to prescribe their national conservation policies.
While the initial ruling favoured the complainants, the WTO later reversed the findings of the dispute settlement panel in 1998. The issue of sustainable fishing is high on WTO’s agenda and curbing subsidies by next year tops it. The department of commerce has asked exporters to declare their catch and type of boats. A team from the US is expected to visit India to familiarise exporters with these requirements.