Indian seafood companies struggling to export during COVID-19 lockdown

Published on
April 9, 2020

Seafood companies in India are doggedly continuing to export their products, despite various barriers brought about by the complete lockdown imposed across the country last month, The Hindu BusinessLine reported 1 April.

On 24 March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi placed the whole country of 1.3 billion people under lockdown for 21 days in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown has negatively affected the trade flow from India to other markets, according to the BusinessLine. With courier services shut down, exporters could not mail all original shipping documents to importers in other countries. However, Indian exporters have managed to send their cargoes to some markets – particularly those in Asia – and they are hoping for a revival of shipments to selected countries.

“We have sent shipments to Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, China, etcetera, where there were no serious restrictions for demanding original export documents. However, the quantity shipped, mainly shrimp, is very negligible, but the move has given a ray of hope in the current situation,” Seafood Exporters Association of India Kerala Region President Alex K. Ninan told The Hindu BusinessLine.

The exports were made possible because authorities in destination countries accepted scanned copies of required original documents, including bill of landing, certificate of origin, and health certificates provided by Indian regulatory bodies. Japan, Italy, and Spain even allowed exporters to submit scanned documents for the cargoes, which had already arrived in their ports.

Ninan said the export volumes could be higher if transport of consignments between processing plants and ports are cleared. He said companies have their stockpiles ready for exports and recommended that the government give permission for the operation of empty trailers to carry containers from wharfs to processing factories for shipments.

According to guidelines from the India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, industrial establishments will be shut down during the lockdown, except for manufacturing units of essential commodities. Those which need to keep continuous operations must seek approval from local governments. Transport services, including air and rail, will be suspended, except for those dealing with essential goods.

The shutdown of processing plants and the shortage of wild-caught seafood during the lockdown are also expected to hit exports of seafood from India, the newspaper reported. 

Photo coutesy of Druid007/Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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