China reprocessing, selling Russian-origin seafood to US despite import ban

Lotus Seafood CEO Nick Ochinnikov.

China has experienced a surge in Russian seafood entering the country recently, and is reprocessing and selling much of it to markets that have banned Russian seafood imports, including the U.S.

Bilateral seafood trade between the China and Russia rose 80 percent in the first quarter of 2023, according to Robin Wang, head of seafood marketing agency SMH International in Shanghai. Overall, Sino-Russian trade rose 38.7 percent year-over-year in Q1.

“[This is happening] because of the good relationship between China and Russia,” Wang said.

Though there's an import ban in the U.S. on Russian seafood products, there’s no such explicit ban for reprocessed goods, a loophole that many companies are exploiting, according to Nick Ovchinnikov, CEO of U.S.-based Lotus Seafoods.

“E.U. import authorities have been requiring raw material certificates of origin for many years, [but] U.S. Customs and Border Protection have never implemented it and remain on the blind side of the actual origin of many species being imported into the U.S,” he said.

Ovchinnikov said he believes American authorities have been turning a blind eye to Chinese-processed Russian seafood

Photo courtesy of Lotus Seafood

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