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Sri Lanka braces to re-enter the US$15 billion Chinese seafood market

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is reinvigorating to re-enter the US$15 billion Chinese seafood market following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s General Administration of Customs.

It will unlock Chinese market with new quality and quarantine protocols to gain clearance for the export of seafood to this” land of the dragon.

The deal will immediately allow 38 Sri Lankan companies to more easily export 33 local products including 29 aquatic products to China before signing the free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, finance ministry sources revealed.

The General Administration Customs of China (GACC) recently approved the amended health certificate, thereby enabling the import of fisheries and aquatic products from Sri Lanka from July1, a high official of the export development board (EDB) told the LNW.

With the untiring efforts of the EDB, Department of Fisheries and the Sri Lanka Embassy in China, the certificate was upgraded to meet the quarantine requirements of the GACC – Import and Export Food Safety Bureau, he disclosed.

29 seafood and aquaculture export products such as frosen fish, crabs, prawns, lobsters crabs, shrimp, swordfish, and sea cucumbers are required to obtain necessary clearance from the relevant authorities of the importing country China.

He said the new quality and quarantine protocols would facilitate existing Sri Lankan companies to continue exports of four other products including Asphalt Mixtures, Tea and Jewellery and new exporters to enter the lucrative Chinese market.

Sri Lanka exported 1.3 million kilograms of seafood worth $ 1 billion to China last year and progressed from 14th rank in 2019 to 10th seafood export destination in 2020.

It has come down to $ 61.01 million during January – March in 2023 from $64.60 million during the same period in 2022.

China’s requirements for seafood imports are expected to increase to as high as 18 million tons by 2030.

Rising wealth among urban consumers, increased consumption of seafood, and a shift towards more wild-caught and marine species are among factors that make China a high potential export market.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the General Administration of Customs (GAC) release the catalogues of goods that are subjected to automatic import licensing and import licensing on an annual basis, and release catalogues of goods that are prohibited from import from time to time.

For exported goods, those restricted from export are subject to the export licensing management. Among the export-restricted products, some are subject to additional quota management.

These matters and other trade barriers are to be eased following the signing of the China-Sri Lanka FTA which would contribute to further deepening bilateral economic and trade relations in line with the mutual interests of the two countries.

Trade in goods is not the only subject of China’s free trade agreements; services, investment, and intellectual property rights are also included, as are government procurements, a high finance ministry official said.

Sri Lanka has prepared a list of 451 export goods for tariff concessions under the proposed Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement (SLCFTA), while China too has prepared a similar number of export goods to be demarcated as eligible for concessions, he added.

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