EU likely to remove ban on fish exports | Pakistan Today

EU likely to remove ban on fish exports

According to well placed sources within the foreign office, EU is likely to remove its ban on the export of fisheries from Pakistan. This step is going to play a crucial role in bridging the trade deficit that had widened to almost $15 billion.
Unhygienic conditions
EU imposed a ban on the import of fisheries from Pakistan in 2007 after their inspectors visited several sites in the country and accordingly reported unhygienic conditions in which the fish products were being handled by authorities dealing with the export of fisheries. EU conveyed to Pakistan that until these exports complied with their sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, their entry in the EU will not be allowed. Subsequently the EU de-listed all Pakistani
seafood exporters in early 2007. Taking serious note of the imposition of the ban, the Marine and fisheries department that came under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock as its subsidiary, made efforts to improve the standard of fisheries establishments with EU assistance. After these measures were taken, the Government of Pakistan approached the EU to inspect the respective facilities so that imports of fisheries into the EU would be allowed. However, owing to the volatile law and order situation of the country, this visit could not materialise due to security concerns by the EU.
At the start of the year, EU informed the government of Pakistan that it was willing to resume fisheries trade from Pakistan without sending inspectors for inspection of the said facilities, provided that the government could identify and henceforth provide a list of fisheries establishments and vessels that met the EU standards. This news was also confirmed by a high level EU delegation that visited Pakistan recently.
Unfortunately though it has been almost six months since the EU expressed its willingness to allow fisheries exports from Pakistan, however the Marine Fisheries department which is now under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping has not been able to identify the fisheries establishments and fishing vessels. The Sindh government recently started a Rs558 million project for the improvement of fisheries establishment and facilities under which, the government would provide 75 per cent of the total cost of modification to one boat. In excess of 100 boats have already been modified.
Exports increase by 30.5pc
Fisheries play a vital role in the economy as it provides employment to approximately 300,000 fishermen directly. In addition, almost 400,000 people are employed in ancillary fishing industries.
There has been a substantial increase in fish exports of Pakistan during the last 3 years that have expanded by 30.5 per cent from July
2010 to May 2011, according a report of the State Bank of Pakistan. During this period Pakistan’s fish export increased to $258.161 million in comparison to $197.829 million in July-May 2009-10.
The resumption of fish export to the EU is great news for Pakistan as almost 25 per cent of seafood export of the country in 2006 was to the EU.
Sources have said that exports to the EU could have crossed $300 million mark had the ban not been imposed. Seafood export to the EU can enable Pakistan to earn approximately $50 to 80 million annually. The government needs to ensure that the Marine fisheries department, expedite their work on identifying fishing establishments and vessels. Any delays will cause a huge loss to the government national exchequer.

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