June 21, 2011


Pakistan's seafood exports jump 30%



Pakistan's seafood export rose 30.5% from July 2010 to May 2011 over the export of the first 11 months of last fiscal year, according to a provisional data report of the State Bank of Pakistan.


During this period, Pakistan's seafood export fetched US$258.161 million against US$197.829 million in July-May 2009-10.


Seafood exports have also exceeded the total export figure of last year. Last financial year, Pakistan earned US$220.372 million.


The better prices were result of an increase in the export of value-added fish products and exploring new markets.


Pakistan's value-added products include ready-to-eat fish and shrimp. Pakistan's shrimps are directly sold in the retail market of Japan.


Chairman Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association Faisal Iftikhar said that Middle East and Indonesia were explored as new markets for Pakistan. Besides, China started buying more quantity of high-value products like cuttlefish, scads and shrimp from Pakistan.


After the ban on import of Pakistan's seafood placed by European Union in 2007, the country had been facing problems in exports.


The European Union de-listed all Pakistani seafood exporters in early 2007 and the ban has not been lifted yet. There is no export to the EU despite Pakistan's request to the EU to send its officials.


EU gave time for a visit at the end of 2009, but cancelled the visit, giving no concrete reason, sources in the industry said.


Of the 28 seafood processing units, 11 had been exporting to the EU, but none of them is listed now for export to EU.


When an EU mission visited the harbour in 2007, they found some deficiencies both at the harbour and at processing units.


The EU's directorate of Food and Veterinary submitted their 25-page findings to Pakistani authorities showing concerns.


Pakistan's exports to EU member countries remained around US$50 million in 2006, a year before the ban was imposed. "If export to EU had continued, the country would have earned at least US$50 millions more," said Moazzam Ali Khan, director general Marine Fisheries Department.


Sources said if EU had allowed Pakistani seafood, the export could have crossed US$300 million as kidney shrimp does not get good price in other markets. Out of total export of US$194 million in 2005-06, export to EU was over US$50.059 million, more than 25%.


Besides, export to EU was a benchmark for other countries. "Even a country like China asks for export registration no. for the EU market," said an official.


In the absence of the EU market, Pakistan's seafood export noted significant increase to China, UAE, Thailand, Korea, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia in recent years.


In order to get the EU market back, the fisheries authorities have taken several measures to improve the whole system.


Two auction halls have been improved and Korangi Fish Harbour has been made functional.


Though Pakistani seafood export has increased to other countries, fisheries officials say the EU markets remain important as buyers there give stable and strong prices, their standards set the benchmark and Pakistani kidney shrimp gets the best price there.

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