SL to bring down Chinese suppliers

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (centre) meets the Second Secretary of Chinese Embassy in Colombo Mr Ran Xiong (left) and Secretary of Sri Lanka Canned Fish Association Chathura Wicremanayake (right) on 10 July in Colombo.

Stepping in and mediating on time, Sri Lanka has successfully turned around the issue of spoilt canned fish imports muddle following due in-depth and multi-level talks with all the key stakeholders in Colombo on July 10,

“We invite a canned fish supplier delegation from China to Sri Lanka for discussions,” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday at the Ministry. Minister Bathiudeen made these observations during a meeting with all stakeholders in view of resolving the canned fish imports issue. Canned fish is a heavily used item by local consumers and an essential item in the management of the day to day cost of living. 60 Lankan companies annually import 40 million Kilos (Kgs) of canned fish for the local market. Since May 2018, no canned fish consignments from China had been received by Sri Lanka. It has been widely reported in the media that worms were detected by Lankan authorities in some imported canned fish tins to Sri Lanka and consignments were held back at the Customs and some had even ordered that it be re-exported. As a result, since February, Lankan authorities have been detecting canned fish destined for local markets landing in local ports. Both SLSI and the Ministry of Food Control Dept. under the Heath Ministry had decided that 31canned fish consignments imported from Chinese suppliers were unfit to be released to local markets due to the presence of more than 3 types of parasites in them. A prevalence of between 0-three are acceptable, but these consignments had a higher rate of parasites.

“Of the 92 containers of canned fish which had arrived earlier this year, in many consignments from Chinese suppliers and 80 containers were rejected by Lankan authorities based on certification guidelines. Our authorities have done their job right,” announced Minister Bathiudeen, adding: “Still, the total stoppage of canned fish imports would affect our consumers, while market shortages could take place here. We wish to call the support of the Government of China to resolve this situation through amicable discussions and we are confident the Chinese authorities would support us and their own exporters who have faced this issue, to meet our health standards. As government officials, we are ready to support our importers to comply with SLSI standards. We invite a canned fish supplier delegation from China to Sri Lanka for discussions and the resolution of this issue. Thereafter, we shall send a Sri Lankan importer delegation to Beijing to finalise,” Secretary of Sri Lanka Canned Fish Association Chathura Wicremanayake, agreed with Minister Bathiudeen. “There are a great number of exporters in China and this happens only once in a way. The last time this happened in Sri Lanka was 22 years ago, but on the fish imported from Chile. We have been importing fish from China for the past 8 years and this is the first time this issue had surfaced. Chinese products are not bad, except on a few occasions where spoilt cans had got mixed. We believe the Chinese exporters also should step in now and show they are reliable suppliers. We believe Beijing would update its own suppliers of the changes in standards applied in Sri Lanka,” said Secretary Wicremanayake.

Officials from SLSI and the Health Ministry, said that they were not against canned fish imports to Sri Lanka. “We are not opposing imports, but exporters to Sri Lanka should certify the quality otherwise SPS violations could occur and our consumers would be affected,” they stressed.

Chinese embassy Second Secretary Ran Xiong agreed that standards had to be maintained for the betterment of both countries and added: “Letters from Trade Remedies Division wants further clarifications from the Lankan authorities. We agree to Sri Lanka’s revised standards, while we also call for a buffer period for our exporters to adjust. I am in discussion with our Chinese suppliers and Chinese Chambers. We are optimistic this issue could be resolved in collaboration with all local authorities and Lankan importers,” stressed Xiong.

 

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