Free trade agreement with India | Seafood industry | Blog | Seafish

How could a free trade agreement with India benefit the seafood industry?

Our regulation team shares its recommendations on behalf of the seafood industry to support the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with India.

Since the UK left the EU, the Government has been negotiating FTAs to ensure we can still trade goods with minimal barriers. We have been providing the Government with information about seafood imports and exports to ensure FTAs are beneficial to the seafood industry.  

Last year, the UK and Indian Governments started negotiating an FTA which they hope to conclude soon. We have made recommendations on behalf of the UK’s seafood industry based on the current trade opportunities and barriers.  

UK seafood imports from India

A photo of a cooked prawns in a blue bowl. The bowl is in a dinner setting on a table with a wine glass.
Warm water prawns and shrimp are a popular seafood in the UK.

The UK imported £112.4 million of seafood from India in 2021. The top three imports from India are: 

  • warm water shrimp
  • squid  
  • surimi 

India is ranked as number 10 in countries supplying the UK seafood by value. The UK import more seafood from India than we export to India. The export value is 0.6% of the import value.  

Trade barriers reported to us associated with imports into the UK include:  

  • Sampling frequency of Indian farmed shrimp testing for antibiotic residue. Since 2016 the sampling frequency has increased from 10% to 50%. Exporters end up paying detention and demurrage charges. This leads to additional costs as well as uncertainty in delivery timings meaning UK buyers may find it easier to source from elsewhere.  
  • Format of the health certificates are frequently changed by UK, resulting in customers having different interpretations of the formats.  
  • Cost of sea freight and port congestions at UK ports.  

UK seafood exports to India  

The UK exported £2.1 million of seafood to India in 2020. The are four main exports: 

  • Norway lobster (nephrops) 
  • salmon 
  • cold water prawns 
  • ling 

We see Norway lobster (nephrops) going in and out of India and we understand that the UK nephrops industry are using India’s processing facilities. This is a strength to our economic relationship with India.  

The market in India is also full of opportunities for the UK seafood industry as you’ll see from the table below: 

India market overview   
Population  1.4 billion
Average income per capita (USD)  1,822 
Economic growth   8.9% 
Fish consumption per capita per year 6.9kg 

Trade barriers reported to us associated with exports include:  

  • High duty costs on import into India.  The main export commodities have 30% customs duty and a 10% social welfare charge. Some commodities have an additional 5% goods and services charge.  
  • Difficult market to enter. This is due to price, local competition and a negative perception of canned seafood products.  
  • Cold storage and infrastructure have been poor. Spoiled goods or unreliability with transport discourages exporters from trading.  
  • India increased its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) controls with little notice making it difficult for the UK to comply with its testing and export health certificate requirements. This has resulted in SPS divergence and the UK did not have an export health certificate ready in time for the implementation date of 1 January 2023.  

Our conclusions and recommendations on the FTA 

The analysis on India as an export market shows that the growth in the economy may open opportunities for seafood exporters in the future, particularly if there are upgrades to infrastructure and cold storage facilities in India.  

SPS is a barrier to trade for both imports and exports. This includes the sampling of aquaculture being imported from India and the recent SPS changes on goods being exported to India.  

Based on feedback we have received from the seafood industry, we have made three recommendations: 

  1. There should be a clause in the Free Trade Agreement concerning strong cooperation in SPS matters which would be of benefit to both countries. Increased controls in India and robust testing of seafood commodities before they are exported, could reduce or eliminate the need to test on import into the UK. Different SPS rules could be given to temporarily imported goods to support the nephrop processing sector in India.  
  2. There should be a clause in the free trade agreement concerning the handling and storage of perishable goods which would ensure quicker customs clearance and preservation of seafood products.  
  3. Digitalisation of SPS certification would avoid parties having incorrect versions of certificates, resulting in more transparent and frictionless trading.  

Contact us

We welcome comments and feedback from the seafood industry, so your issues are understood and fed into the FTA negotiations.

Please share your thoughts and feedback with Christina Fallah, Regulatory Affairs Advisor (Customs and International Trade), by emailing