Chinese government seeks to boost seafood exporters

It’s clear that China’s officials are looking for new sources of growth for local seafood processors. Authorities in the port city of Yantai, a processing hub in Shandong province, this month celebrated opening the Honduras market this month, shipping 19 metric tons (MT) worth USD 50,000 (EUR 36,690) in the first such shipment to the Latin American country. The shipment of frozen processed squid and cuttlefish was highlighted as a major breakthrough in a statement by the city’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) which advises local firms on market demand and access trends on global markets. The city’s 210,000 MT of seafood exports now go to 81 countries, according to the local offices of AQSIQ, which appears to act as a facilitator of domestic exports as well as an inspection watchdog for both exports and imports. That list of 81 countries may get longer — embassies in Beijing of "non-traditional" seafood markets are being contacted for trade leads, according to AQSIQ's Yantai office.

Data from the wider province of Shandong (of which key processing/export hub Qingdao as well as Yantai are part) meanwhile shows that seafood trade hit 895,000 MT in the first four months, up 8.2 percent year-on-year. Seafood imports and exports in value terms totaled USD 2.49 billion (EUR 1.82 billion), up 8.5 percent. Exports at 340,000 million MT and USD 1.48 billion (EUR 1.1 billion) in value were up 4.7 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.

Export growth, however, has turned tepid in some key markets. Japan ranks as Shandong’s biggest buyer, taking 107,000 MT worth USD 550 million (EUR 404 million), up 8.5 percent and down 1.5 percent, respectively. The weakest growth was recorded in the U.S., which at 410,000 MT was up 7.5 percent and down 3.7 percent in value at USD 180 million (EUR 132 million). Exports to the E.U. were in second place with 860,000 million MT valued at USD 320 million (EUR 235 million), up 9.95 percent and 4.9 percent respectively. The strongest export growth came from Korea that bought 410,000 MT worth USD 150 million (EUR 110 million), up 26.6 percent and 24.8 percent respectively.

Asian markets appear to be offering stronger demand for Chinese seafood exporters. A hub for freshwater seafood production for the wealthy territories of Hong Kong and Macau, the Guangdong city of Zhongshan lifted exports by 5.7 percent to 19,743 (valued at USD 96.7 million (EUR 71 million)) in the first four months of the year. Of that figure 14,368 MT (valued at USD 76.3 million (EUR 56 million)) was destined to the Hong Kong and Macau markets: up 29.7 percent and 35.4 percent respectively.

More Asian success was reported by authorities at the Dongshan port in southeasterly Fujian province, which are claiming a 19.3 percent year-on-year rise in seafood shipments in the first four months to USD 219 million (EUR 161 million). Most of that produce was shipped to Taiwan. A new free trade agreement has been a boon for seafood trade between Taiwan and the mainland, with Taiwanese processors using nearby Fujian as a base for lower-cost processing to supply the island’s market.

Again, local government appears to be pulling strings to boost seafood exports: the provincial government of Fujian this month opened a ‘platform’ for trade with ASEAN states, with faster port clearance and inspections for seafood shipments between the southern province, which lies on the South China Sea and nearby ASEAN states.


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