KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysia's multi-billion-dollar seafood business has suspended exports to the European Union to avoid an outright ban for failing to meet EU health standards, a report said Friday.
Health minister Liow Tiong Lai said local authorities would spend the next six weeks finding ways to ensure the 46 local companies meet EU demands.
"We will then re-list ourselves to become exporters to the EU. It will take at least three months for us to be relisted," he was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.
Liow said Malaysia will then invite an EU inspection team to check vessels and facilities to ensure they meet the required standards.
A Brussels-based EU official said last week that the bloc was proposing to suspend imports of fisheries products and live fish, except tropical ornamental fish, from Malaysia.
"These imports should be suspended due to the bad outcome of a recent commission inspection that indicated these commodities may be of concern for the community public and animal health," the official said.
Ch'ng Chin Hooi, the chairman of the Malaysian Frozen Foods Processors Association, said its 26 members would lose at least one billion ringgit (0.3 billion dollars) following the voluntary action to stop exports for three months as it was the peak demand season ahead of Christmas.
Last week he said an EU ban "will be devastating for us as Europe is one of our major markets and it would result in many of us going out of business."
But he had admitted there were "some fishing vessels, landing ports and aquaculture ponds that did not meet EU standards."
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