Govt Seeks Clarification over China Seafood Ban

JAKARTA ~ The authorities are to seek an explanation and further guidance from Beijing over a sudden ban imposed by China on its seafood imports, an official said.

“We drafted a letter demanding clarification on Saturday and it should be handed over to the Chinese government by our embassy in Beijing today (Monday),” fisheries ministry spokesman Saut Hutagalung told AFP.

China’s state media reported the ban on Saturday, saying that bacteria and chemicals had been found in excessive amounts in some imports from here, including salmonella in Indonesian eel.

Hutagalung said the Indonesian government had not been told in advance of the move.

“Usually, a notification of non-compliance is sent whenever there is a product that does not meet their standards, but this time, the announcement of the ban came suddenly, out of the blue,” he said.

Indonesia wanted to see results of laboratory tests or other evidence used by China to support their decision to enact the ban, he said.

Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi told reporters separately that if the ban was really in effect, Indonesia wanted to know “which products are affected and which producers or exporters are concerned.”

Indonesia exports US$150 million worth of seafood products to China each year, Hutagalung said.

The Chinese move came after Indonesia’s Food and Drug Agency said last week that it had found several Chinese products, including cosmetics and medicines, containing dangerous additives.

Hutagalung said that the fisheries, foreign affairs and trade ministries were meeting with the country’s association for seafood businesses to discuss what steps to take next.

The safety of China’s exports has sparked considerable global concern in recent months, following the discovery of health hazards in everything from toys to toothpaste made in China.

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