Marine Products Exports Development Authority (Mpeda) allayed fears of India's seafood exports to the United States (US) getting affected following the withdrawal of GSP benefits to India by that country.

The US decision to scrap the concessions to India under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) will not adversely impact seafood exports to American market as most of its marine food products, including high-in-demand shrimps, enjoy ‘zero tariff’ under the current GSP regime, said Mpeda.

“There is a widespread apprehension that the US decision will affect the seafood exports from India to America, which is a major importer of our marine products. But such an apprehension is unfounded,” said K S Srinivas, Mpeda Chairman.

According to him, Mpeda has made a detailed analysis and found that there would not be any immediate setbacks anticipated due to withdrawal of GSP benefit in seafood exports. “The exports of prepared and preserved shrimps and crab to America will not be adversely affected as these enjoy zero tariff at present under the GSP regime,” he said.

India usually exports seafood worth $ 2,300 million to the American market with frozen shrimp as the flagship item of exports. However, frozen shrimp currently enjoys zero tariff and is not covered under the GSP regime. “Moreover, the exports of other items such as frozen fish and frozen cephalopods are also not currently benefitted under the GSP. Hence the withdrawal of GSP will not affect our seafood exports to US”, he said.

India exported 13,77,244 tonnes of seafood in FY18 and garnered $ 7.08 billion (Rs 45,106.89 crore), with frozen shrimp and frozen fish continues to be the principal export items. USA, the leading destination for Indian seafood in value terms, imported seafood worth$ 2,320.05 million.

The overall export of shrimp during 2017-18 was 5,65,980 tonnes worth $ 4,848.19 million, with USA continuing to be the largest market (2,25,946 tonnes) for frozen shrimp and accounting for 53 per cent of total Vannamei shrimp exports. Frozen shrimp was the principal item of exports to US with a share of 95.03 per cent in dollar value.

A leading seafood exporter based in Kochi has also echoed a similar view, saying that it was products like agriculture, leather products to the US markets would going to have an impact following the withdrawal of GSP benefits.