Foreign ministry accused of killing sprat exports to China

Latvia’s fish cannery sector accused the Foreign Ministry Tuesday of failing to secure an important trade treaty with China, resulting in the death of a sprat export deal that was supposed to have been part of the launch of successful new economic relations with the giant market.

“We don’t know for sure who at the ministry or the embassy is responsible, but it turns out that the treaty governing fisheries trade between Latvia and China was not extended in due time. Unfortunately, under these complicated conditions, when our own fish canneries managed to find a way to get their products into new markets, but at the state level to take care of the last technical detail, somebody forgot to do their job. We’ve got the necessary certificates, but the extended treaty – not,” Latvia’s Fish Processing Association president Didzis Šmits told LETA.

Head of the JSC cannery Brīvais vilnis Arnolds Babris estimated his company could be potentially failing to earn €250,000 each month.

“We’d planned to send five containers full of conserved sprats, each one worth about €50,000. So the corresponding losses due to the failure to extend the treaty is €250,000. The product was ready to go, but now it’ll have to be sold elsewhere, of course for a lower price,” Babris pointed out.

“I’m attending an expo in China in May, but now I have nothing to show to the buyers. I don’t know who that high official who was supposed to prepare those documents for signing did, but that just points to our wondrous bureaucracy and the complete neglect of business affairs,” said the canned fish company chief.

In January it was reported that the export services firm Sino Business Links Latvia was planning to soon send the first shipment of sprats to China. According to company owner Jānis Arbidāns, the long-term scale was large – with cargoes to be sent every quarter, if not each month, depending on demand.

The company also serves many other clients from Latvia’s corporate food processing sector such as Cido, Dobeles dzirnavnieks, Puratos Latvia.

Sino Business Links Latvia primarily partners with shopping centers and minimarket chains that feature almost exclusively foreign-made products, though it hopes to expand to sub-distributors using e-platforms for sales, which have been growing in popularity in China.

The company has said it is planning to open a branch office in Shanghai this spring.


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