China faces import dilemma ahead of July 1 holiday

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Seafood is caught in a wider tightening of access to southern China’s ports as China worries about the spread of the Indian variant of COVID-19.

Although the number of reported cases is low, local and regional Chinese government officials are taking drastic measures to reduce any possibility of a major virus outbreak marring the upcoming Chinese Communist Party’s centenary celebrations on July 1, despite the restrictions. ports pushing entry prices for major manufacturing and processing industries, according to various procurement agents and traders affected by the restrictions.

Cases remain relatively low in Zhanjiang City, a city of seven million that is home to shrimp processing companies like Guolian Aquatic, which are also big buyers of Indian shrimp imports into China. Nonetheless, authorities in Zhanjiang announced a ban on cold chain imports, including shrimp, into the local port from 11 Asian states between June 20 and July 15, according to Landy Chow of Siam Canadian. He told SeafoodSource he was “deeply concerned” that the Zhanjiang ban could be replicated in other ports.

Chow also sees a wider problem of damage to consumer demand, as earlier reported findings of COVID-19 on seafood packaging in Dalian and Qingdao “caused customers to [to] perceive that imported seafood may contain COVID-19. “

“This ban from Zhanjiang actually reinforces such perceptions,” he said. “I’ve heard that some trucks refuse to transport Indian seafood because from what I’ve heard, the current peak of COVID-19 in Guangdong is [the] Delta variant, which is [the] Indian variant. Such a variant is more transmissible.

The Chinese government’s reaction to the Indian variant is leading to increased pressure on prices for shrimp, Chow said.

“I heard a few days ago that Chinese importers have asked the Indian packer to divert the containers to [an]another nearby port, like Beihai Port, based in Guangxi Province and about 180 kilometers from Zhanjiang, ”Chow said. “If such a ban is limited to Zhanjiang Port only, then the price may experience a moderate increase; If all Chinese ports take the same ban as Zhanjiang, then we could see a significant price increase, especially for processed products such as PD tail-off. “

Port access issues are not unique to Chinese seafood imports – the port of Shenzhen has seen traffic drop in recent weeks as authorities take extra precautions as the July 1 commemorations approach. This has raised concerns among exporters of various technologies and manufactures, of which the Shenzhen region is a world leader, and put additional pressure on Chinese economic policymakers worried about inflation causing social unrest. China’s producer price index rose 9% year-on-year in May, its biggest increase since 2008 – although the rise is from a lower baseline, set in May 2020 – suggesting that Chinese factories raise prices to cope with an increase in raw materials. fresh.

The protectionist decision to stop imports into China is also causing a backlash on the international stage, as it flies in the face of Chinese promises to increase trade with the ASEAN region in particular. Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wen Tao told his Vietnamese counterpart last week that Beijing wants to encourage trade with Vietnam, one of the few countries to have seen its shipments to China increase faster in 2020 than its imports from its larger neighbor to the north.

Meanwhile, even as it tightens access to some seafood imports, China has launched a new branding campaign to boost sales of domestically produced seafood. Launched recently at the annual seafood show in Fuzhou, the government’s “Intelligent Eat Fish” campaign aims to promote the dietary benefits of locally farmed species such as eel and silver pomfret. At the event, experts from the Dietetics Department of Peking University joined with academics from the People’s University media to discuss how best to conduct an information campaign promoting seafood. for their dietary benefits.

Photo courtesy of Lee Yiu Tung / Shutterstock

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