Bangladesh has suffered a loss worth Tk 3.18 billion in the last nine months, due to the suspension of shipment of edible aquatic animals to the key market China.
The export of aquatic animals, including live crab and eel fish, to China has remained halted for more than nine months, industry insiders said.
They also expressed fears that Bangladesh was going to lose its export market of these products in China gradually.
In such circumstances, most of the firms concerned stopped their business operations due to continuous losses, said exporters involved in this trade.
Meanwhile, a letter of the Bangladesh embassy in China said due to health certificate issues and the presence of contaminated substances in aquatic products, there were no exports of edible aquatic products to China for the last nine months.
However, the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) withdrew the suspension on April 22, 2021 with sincere and intensive efforts by the Bangladesh embassy in China, added the letter.
The embassy mentioned that export of edible aquatic animals might resume shortly.
Around U$50 million earnings come by exporting edible aquatic animals to Chinese markets.
There are 218 members under the Bangladesh Live and Chilled Food Exporters Association (BLCFEA). But only 10-12 firms have now kept doing their business, a document of the association reads.
Earlier, in June 2020, China had imposed a ban on import of live mud crab and eel fish from Bangladesh as health hazardous bacteria was found in some consignments along with forged salubrity certificates, according to a senior official of the Department of Fisheries.
The Chinese authorities found the presence of contaminated substances (estradiol and cadmium) beyond an acceptable limit for human health, he added.
In a letter, the Plant and Animal Quarantine Department of General Administration of China Customs then conveyed the decision of the temporary ban on import of the aquatic animals, to the Bangladesh embassy in Beijing.
The Chinese side also requested Bangladesh to take legal actions against the exporting firms and also called for a halt in the export of such goods to China from Bangladesh as soon as possible, said the official of the fisheries department.
Generally, live mud crab and eel fish are exported only by air.
In September 2020, exports of such products to China resumed.
But the Chinese authority suspended imports of live mud crab and eel from Bangladesh in October for the second time due to the presence of contaminated substances, estradiol and cadmium in particular, beyond an acceptable limit for human health, the official added.
China is Bangladesh's largest trade partner with annual bilateral trade of over US$13 billion.
Crab and eel exporters earned around Tk 6.0 billion in the last fiscal year.
A major portion of export consignments of crab and eel went to the Chinese market, a sector insider said.