INCREASED tension between Beijing and the West appears to be affecting New Zealand salmon exports to China.
The company so far hardest hit is New Zealand’s biggest seafood exporter, Sanford. It has been experiencing problems in obtaining clearance for salmon through Chinese ports, as suspicions grow that China is turning up the heat on the countries that have put a block on the company Huawei supplying 5G mobile technology because it may be infiltrating Western security.
The fear is that the issue could spread to other seafood exporting countries at odds with China.
Six years ago, China effectively banned Norwegian salmon shipments over Oslo’s support for the late Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiabo. Trading relations only returned to normal 18 months ago.
Sanford chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo said in a written statement that several shipments of fresh salmon had been affected since the end of January. He later told Radio New Zealand that they had faced delays in being cleared through Chinese ports.
‘We have recently faced administrative issues with our salmon exports to China, which have caused delays getting shipments cleared through Chinese ports,’ he said. ‘We have not been given a reason for this by local authorities.’
He said he was not at this stage attributing these problems to the deteriorating New Zealand-China relationship, but pointed out that no reason has been given for the delays.
Other New Zealand food exporters have reported similar problems and one Beijing newspaper said Chinese tourists had struck New Zealand off their travel itinerary.