Iran’s annual exports of aquatic animals to Russia since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2019) have witnessed an over 100 percent increase year-on-year, said the secretary general of Iran’s Fisheries Production and Trading Union (IFPTU).
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Ali-Akbar Khodaei added Iran has exported close to 600 million tons of aquatic animals to Russia since March 2019.
He put at 280 million tons Iran’s overseas sales of aquatic animals to Russia in the year to March 2019, saying over the past few years, the European state has sought to boost trade with regional countries, including Iran, to meet its domestic demands, and, thus, has become a new market for Iranian fisheries exports.
Adoption of new trade policies by Russia in the field of importing fisheries products has provided Iran with a new opportunity to raise its exports of aquatic animals.
Prior to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in China, in January, Russians banned imports of aquatic animals from the East Asian country.
Khodaei said that the decision was made by Russia due to the low quality of the Chinese fisheries products, as they contained traces of antibiotics and heavy metals, and the frauds in terms of the weight and size of the overseas sales from China.
“At present a large number of Russian traders and companies that were not previously among the customers of the Iranian products have expressed willingness to purchase fisheries products from Iran and regularly contact us.”
He also said that since Iran’s exports to Russia have recently gained momentum, they are expected to witness a more significant growth in the year to March 2021.
Commenting on the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran on the country’s fisheries exports, Khodaei said since China is the main market for Iranian aquatic animals, the epidemic has adversely influenced Iranian exports to the East Asian state, creating problems for customs clearance of the goods at Chinese ports.
He added given that the spread of coronavirus in China had, in general, reduced demand for foodstuff and meat products in the country, resulting in Chinese storerooms being full to the brim, they refrained from unloading Iranian fisheries products at some ports despite having paid for them.
“The problem, however, was resolved in the past two weeks.”
In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, a number of other countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, the UAE and Russia, suspended imports of fisheries products from Iran, Khodaei said, giving the assurance that this was also resolved through negotiations between Iranian officials and those of these countries and adoption of preventive and protective measures at the borders.
He described as normal the trend currently reflected by Iran’s exports of aquatic animals, noting that the country is also importing such products from states such as China.
“For instance, we are importing a large amount of tuna from China for the use of our domestic companies.”
He said during the past few years, Iran’s exports of aquatic animals witnessed an average annual growth of between 10 percent and 15 percent each year, regretting that the increasing trend was halted in the current Iranian year due to the problems caused by US sanctions on the country.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran.
Iran retaliated by scaling back from its commitments under the deal as the European signatories also failed to honor their undertakings within the JCPOA.
Khodaei said in the year to March 2019, Iran exported 134,000 tons of fisheries products valued at $528 million, adding this comes as, during March 2019-January 2020, the country’s overseas sales of such products stood at 117,000 tons, worth $400 million.
He regretted that these figures fail to exceed those of the last year by March 19, 2020, remaining almost the same.
Khodaei listed some of Iran’s fisheries exports in the previous year as shrimp (close to 30,000 tons), caviar, common carp, trout and sea bass.
IFPTU secretary general said last year, Iran produced 47,000 tons of shrimp, predicting almost the same figure for the current year.