Seafood exports getting sunk by strong Rupee

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Kochi, Sep 24 (UNI) With Indian seafood exports being outpriced in major markets due to the strong Rupee, the industry today urged the Centre to throw it a lifeline by lowering interest costs and removing service tax.

Seafood Exporters Association of India president A J Tharakan said here that Indian seafood exporters were unable to compete with cheaper exports from China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

''There is, therefore, an imperative need for the finance and commerce ministries to give major support to the seafood export industry by substantially lowering interest costs for pre and post shipment finance, removing any form of service tax on exports and providing higher rates under the DEPB scheme to make Indian seafood internationally competitive,'' he said in a statement.

Indian exporters were finding their products being outpriced in the major markets of the U.S., Japan and the EU due to the strong rupee. As the major portion of the price comprised raw material cost, it was difficult for exporters to lower the price paid to the fishermen or aqua farmers in line with the appreciating rupee because beyond a certain minimum price it would not be viable for either the fishermen to go out to sea or the aqua farmer to culture shrimp or fish due to the high cost of inputs, he said.

Indian seafood exports amounted to Rs. 8,000 crore last year with high value products like shrimp, squid, cuttlefish and crab sustaining the fisheries sector.

''Millions are directly or indirectly involved in the fisheries sector and if there is a slow down in exports, there could be serious repercussions for fishing families living along the East and West coasts of India,'' he added.

UNI

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