May 26, 2009

Bangladesh eyes Russia for shrimp exports

Bangladesh is targeting Russia as its next big destination of its frozen food products after it temporarily suspended fresh water prawn export to the European Union nations, officials said Sunday (May 24).


Europe's most populous nation said it will import Bangladeshi shrimps and other fish products in a "bigger scale", nearly five months after it cancelled import from Dhaka on health ground.


Fishery officials said they are hoping to resume shipments to Russia later this year, as Moscow officials were "impressed at the quality of Bangladeshi shrimps and eager to sign a bilateral deal" paving the way for renewed exports.


A high-powered team of the Russian government recently visited Bangladesh to inspect government's quality control laboratories and frozen food processing plants.


Hassan Ahmed, a senior official of department of fisheries said the Russian delegation have also carried out a study on the level of harmful antibiotic in Bangladeshi frozen shrimps.


Bangladesh exported frozen food worth BDT3.0 billion (US$43.45 million) to Russia for fiscal year 2007-08, three-times more than the amount it shipped in the previous year.


Exporters said the demand for Bangladeshi shrimps in the world's largest country is growing fast and it would eventually emerge as the third important market after the European Union and the United States.


Bangladesh exported frozen food worth US$534 million in the last fiscal year, with the EU and the US accounting for more than 95 per cent of the total shipments.


Shipments are, however, down by at least 13 per cent in the first nine months of current fiscal year due to the impact of the global recession, as shrimp is considered a luxury food item in the western countries.


Before the shipment was halted in January this year, Bangladesh exported shrimps worth Tk 1.5 billion to Russia.


Exporters said the move to gain a sizeable chunk of the Russian market is a way to overcome the setback they faced in the EU markets.


They have already suspended export of fresh water prawn to 27 EU countries after the detection of harmful antibiotic, nitrofuran, in 54 container-load of shrimps.


US$1 = BDT69.100 (May 26)