Laos bans Thai seafood imports over virus fears

Laos bans Thai seafood imports over virus fears

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  • Lao PDR has placed a temporary hold on Thai seafood imports, pending evidence the products are not contaminated
  • The temporary suspension encompasses fresh and frozen seafood and remains in place until authorities from both countries can discuss and confirm the safety of Thai seafood exports

Following the resurgence of a COVID-19 outbreak at a seafood market in Samut Sakhon in Thailand, the Lao PDR government has placed a temporary hold on Thai seafood imports pending evidence the products are not contaminated.

The order from Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Somchit Inthamith was circulated via Facebook, according to a recent report from the National News Bureau of Thailand.

The ban was reportedly implemented on December 24 after Thailand’s Samut Sakhon district became the epicenter of a new COVID-19 outbreak, with over 1,000 people testing positive.

The temporary suspension encompasses fresh and frozen seafood and is to remain in place until authorities from both countries can discuss and confirm the safety of Thai seafood exports and that they are not contaminated with COVID-19.

Officials from each nation’s food and drug administrations are to coordinate on the matter.

The ban has had a direct effect on seafood importers in Laos. Before the pandemic struck, this business was recording strong growth due to the increasing popularity of seafood among Lao people, business operators said.

Thailand’s Nong Khai Customs Checkpoint reported that Thai-Lao trade reached THB60 billion (US$2 billion) last year, with THB47 billion being exports from Thailand and THB13 billion being imports from Laos. The total was down THB4.6 billion from last year.

It noted that seafood sales to Laos comprise only a small part of all exports, with only about 5 tons shipped each month.

Photo by Arina Ertman on Unsplash

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