Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladesh’s frozen food exporters have been asked to take preparations for averting any possible adverse impact as the US senate has approved a bill relating to seafood safety.

The bill directs the department of commerce (DoC) of US to enter into agreements with other federal agencies to strengthen cooperation on seafood safety, labelling and fraud, according to a communiqué, sent by the Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC.

“Since the proposed bill might affect the frozen food export sector in Bangladesh, all stakeholders need to take a coordinated approach for meeting the compliance requirements in relation to its exports to the US market,” the message, signed by Commercial Counsellor Shafiqul Islam, added.

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has already sent the copy of message to different trade bodies including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) for taking necessary measures to meet the requirements as stipulated in the US bill.

Frozen food exporters have started discussions with the ministry of commerce as well as ministry of fisheries and livestock on the issue for taking necessary measures to comply with the requirements of the bill.

“We’ve already discussed the proposed US bill relating to seafood safety with the ministries concerned,” Director of the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA) S Humayun Kabir told the Financial Express, a local newspaper, on Monday.

Mr. Kabir also said the BFFEA is taking preparations so that their exports to the US market remain unaffected.

The US is the single largest importer of Bangladeshi frozen foods, he said adding the US imported around 28 per cent of Bangladesh’s total frozen foods export in fiscal year 2010-11(FY11).

Bangladesh earned US$625.04 million exporting frozen food in FY11, registering 40.40 per cent growth, compared with the previous fiscal year, the EPB data showed.

Other provisions in the bill include sending inspectors to countries that export seafood to the US to assess practices and process being used in connection with the farming, cultivation, harvesting and preparation for marketing or transportation of seafood.

Inspection teams must report about their visits to DoC and these reports will be provided to Health and Human Services (HHS) to aid in risk-based determinations such as establishment of inspection priority of domestic and foreign facilities and examination and testing of imported seafood, the message added.

A bill named ‘Commercial Seafood Consumer Protection Act has been placed to the US Congress on January 25 last by Senator K Inouye. So far three senators have cosponsored the bill and recently ‘The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’ has approved the bill.

BBN/SSR/AD-16Aug11-12:19 pm (BST)