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June 12, 2008

EU may ban Malaysian seafood

The European Commission is seeking a ban on Malaysian seafood and live fish imports over concerns they fail to meet EU standards, AFP quoted an EU official as saying Wednesday.

"The commission is proposing to the member states the adoption of two draft decisions suspending imports of fisheries products and live fish, except tropical ornamental fish, from Malaysia," a commission official said on condition of anonymity.

"These imports should be suspended due 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 added.

However, the official did not know when the decision on the ban would be taken.

In anticipation of EU action, Malaysia's frozen seafood industry urged the European Union to hold off on banning its multi-billion-dollar exports.

"A 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," Ch'ng Chin Hooi, chairman of the Malaysian Frozen Foods Processors Association, told AFP in Kuala Lumpur.

The ban would come after EU food and veterinary officials found during a visit to the country in April 2007 that six out of nine local seafood companies exporting to Europe did not meet EU health standards.

Ch'ng said that most of his association's 20 food processing members have adopted EU standards and that they were planning to get European importers to help lobby against the ban.

But he admitted that there were "some fishing vessels, landing ports and aquaculture ponds that did not meet EU standards."

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