Chinese exporters irked by delays in Indonesia : August 19, 2011
By Mark Godfrey, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from Beijing, China
An apparent attempt by Indonesian authorities to block low-priced frozen seafood imports from China is angering Chinese seafood exporters. Chinese frozen squid exporter, Yantai Rixiang, claims many containers has returned back to the exporters while others sent to Indonesian customers have been delayed at Indonesian ports. Lin Xiaolei, head of overseas sales at the firm, said she’s heard several reasons for the clamp down.
“I’ve been told that the price of frozen seafood exported to there is lower than the price of their [Indonesia’s] own seafood products. So their government makes a policy to protect their own seafood industry,” she said.
Other China-based exporters are experiencing similar problems with Indonesia-bound seafood.
“Many containers exported to Indonesia have been returned back and some of my customers in Indonesia tell me that many containers he has imported has been delayed on the port,” said Landy Chow, head of China for pan-Asian seafood trader Siam Canadian.
Chow believes 100 twenty-foot containers from China, Thailand and other countries have been returned. Many of the containers rejected from China contained mackerel whole round, he added.
Chow explained how when a container of tilapia whole round arrived at Indonesian port in early March, the local health authority claimed that the importer has no proper import license and returned the container to China. According to Chow, his Indonesian customer, which imported many containers in the past, “never had problems in clearing customs; they also do not understand why the government suddenly said that there was a problem on their import permit.”
Indonesian authorites have yet to announce a formal policy change on seafood imports it remains unclear what the precise reason for the blocks are. No comment or explanation has been given by seafood trade bodies in Indonesia, which as a member of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) enjoys tariff-free trade with China as part of an ASEAN-China agreement that came into force last year. The Indonesian industry, worried about a flood of low-cost Chinese imports, hasn’t always been enthusiastic about the pact, which may help explain government actions in the case of Chinese seafood imports.
In March, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported that the Indonesian government would “blacklist Chinese companies that illegally imported fish from China to the detriment of local fishermen,” referring to remarks by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad.
The daily reported that Fadel said he had found “suspicious indications” involving 13 fish import companies “owned by three or four people.” The minister said he suspected mafia involvement and while he did not remember the names of the companies, “said checks by the ministry had revealed a significant price gap between imported and local fish,” according to the Jakarta Post.
Other remarks attributed to the minister suggest protection of the local seafood industry. He referred to a market in Jakarta where imported mackerel was selling for USD 0.46 per kilo, one-quarter the price of local mackerel.
“How can we compete with them selling fish at only 25 percent of our price?” asked the minister. Seperately Indonesia’s trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu has said she would consider sanctioning the illegal fish importers.
Luckily for Yantai Rixiang, which exports 100 percent of its output, there are other export destinations to fall back on. Lin said sales have been brisk due to the firm’s “good quality” and prices that are “more competitive” than competitors through times of rising input prices and wage costs. The firm’s top market for its frozen and breaded squid is Australia, followed by the Middle East. And Lin says she’s confident the Indonesian market will return to normal.
“I believe in China, I think the problem like this will be resolved in the near future,” she said.
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