August 14, 2020


China restores shrimp exports after coronavirus conflict


China has given the green light to one of Ecuador's three firms to resume exports after the latter agreed to improve its shipping protocols, Ivan Ontaneda said, Reuters reported.


Ontaneda added that the other two companies should be approved soon.


Ecuador awaits a quick resolution to a trade dispute with China over traces of coronavirus in a container of exported shrimp that led Beijing to suspend imports from three companies, Ecuador's production and trade minister said.


Last month, Chinese officials said they found six positive results in tests for coronavirus in the walls of a container carrying frozen Ecuadorian shrimp, even through the shrimp and inner packaging tested negative.


"We are in the final stretch for the other two establishments to also overcome the impasse," said Ontaneda, who oversees the country's fishing industry. "The virtual inspections were completed to (their) satisfaction, with positive feedback on quality standards."


One of the three companies, Industrial Pesquera Santa Priscila SA, sent Reuters a June 10 letter to clients in which it said it had received authorisation from China to resume exports.


The other two companies, Empacreci SA and Empacadora Del Pacifico SA, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


An oil-producing nation, Ecuador exported nearly US$4 billion of shrimp in 2019, 55% of which went to China, according to official data.


But shrimp sales have dropped in the last two months due to the economic effects of the coronavirus, as have remittances from emigrees, which are historically an important source of foreign exchange for Ecuador.


"Today we're relying on income from non-oil exports, this income must be increased," said Ontaneda.


Social distancing measures meant to control the pandemic cost the economy some US$7 billion between mid-March and August due to declines in industrial and commercial activity.


The government needs about US$4 billion to reactivate idled businesses, he added.