EU and China slow to comply with Russian regime of importation from approved plants

November 28, 2008 16:35

The regime of importation from Russia-approved plants only to be applied to the EU states, Japan, China and Vietnam as of 1st January 2009 may seriously affect seafood import to Russia at the initial phase of the introduction of the new rules, reports ( with reference to Commersant.

The thing is that despite multiple warnings issued by Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Rosselkhoznadzor in 2008 not all the exporters of seafood to the Russian Federation have applied for certification and got certified by the Service. Besides, the market participants say that the right for importation of seafood to Russia will be also given only to the approved importers.

As of 1 January 2009 Rosselkhoznadzor restricts importation of seafood products from the EU, China, Japan and Vietnam. Igor Chernyshenko, head of one of the Service's departments, says that the order of the nation's Ministry of Agriculture constitutes regulations for issue of permits for seafood importation, under which only approved vessels and plants are allowed to export their product to Russia. Another requirement stipulates for presence of contracted Russian importer. In other words, the regulations provide for a link of the importer to a particular producer.

The order has been in force for one year already and Norway has become one of the first exporting countries compliant with the Russian requirements. Analogous procedures have been conducted in other 26 countries exporting seafood to Russia, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru and Columbia. However, Chernyshenko complains that the EU states, China, Japan and Vietnam have not conducted such procedures, though the Russian vets have warned about the restriction which has been delayed for one year so as to give the exporters time to adjust to the new rules.

According to Rosselkhoznadzor, the annual volume of seafood imported to Russia amounts to ca.1.2 million tonnes, of which approximately 15% are contributed by the EU, nearly 40% by China which is Russia's major supplier of pollock fillets and nearly 30% are contributed by Norway. Speaking about the faults of the EU-made seafood as claimed by the Service Chernyshenko says that, for example, seafood imported from Spain is actually produced in Argentina and Chile. There is a whole system of brokers when the Netherlands and Denmark repack imported fish at 80% of the total volume. As for China (Russia's largest supplier of imported seafood), the volume of 500,000 tonnes annually imported to Russia from the country is contributed mostly by re-exported fish, in particular by pollock harvested by the Russian fleets and exported for re-processing to China.

The market participants have responded to the switch to approved exporters in different ways. Shipments of "forged" fish have considerably decreased in volume, said head of Norge Fish Sergey Gudkov. The company's seafood imports consist of Norwegian fish and Japanese at 3 to 1 ratio. As per 1 December 2008, none of the Japanese companies has been certified by Rosselkhoznadzor, underlined Gudkov. The thing is that the Japanese authorities do not consider the requirements of the Russian vets significant.

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