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US Urged to 'Properly Deal with' Aquaculture Import Limits
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China urged the United States on June 30 to "properly deal with" a move restricting some Chinese seafood imports "as soon as possible", said a top official.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Thursday it would detain five types of Chinese farm-raised seafood products unless suppliers could prove the shipments contained no harmful residues.

In a teleconference with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and FDA officials, Li Changjiang, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which oversees export and import quality, urged the US side to let the exports go through after checking the sanitation certificates issued by China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ).

Li said that China also detected many foodstuffs of shoddy quality among the US exports to the country every year.

"With the principle of cooperation, these problems were all properly dealt with," he said.

"Like the US exports to China, quality problems did exist among exports from one or two individual Chinese companies," he said.

However, Li stressed that China can't "accept" the US decision to "indiscriminately" detain all aquaculture.

China has already adopted measures to solve the problems the FDA cited, he said.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Wang Xinpei also urged foreign trade partners to accept Chinese products unless they violated contract terms or local regulations.

The US restrictions included all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace (related to carp) and eel from China.

The FDA said there had been no reports of illnesses to date, and no recall order was issued.

David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection, said the step was taken due to evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products contained illegal substances.

An official from the Agriculture Ministry, who declined to be named, said the US move would have "serious impacts" on China, the world's largest producer of farmed aquatic food.

"We are keeping close watch over what the FDA wants," he said.

He explained the requirement for evidence of safety would inevitably increase export costs and stressed that China had greatly improved the quality of its seafood.

(China Daily June 30, 2007)

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