Saudi Arabia suspends poultry imports from India on avian flu outbreak; more nations could follow

India’s poultry exports might take the hit after a sudden avian influenza outbreak in some districts of Karnataka pushed Saudi Arabia to stop imports, raising concerns more nations could follow.

Saudi Arabia has imposed a temporary suspension on import of all live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from India due to avian influenza outbreaks, the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority said in a notification.

Saudi Arabia contributes a mere 3 per cent to India’s annual poultry exports of $80 million, but exporters fear a similar reaction from other importing countries.

Oman leads with 38 per cent share in total poultry exports, followed by the Maldives (9.3 per cent) and Vietnam (7.6 per cent).

Owing to repeated outbreaks of the virus, India’s poultry exports have declined over the last two years. After sustaining above $100 million for two years, exports fell to $79.31 million in 2016-17.

Poultry exports in the April-December also declined by 0.5 per cent to $59 million.

However, in rupee terms, exports declined 4.27 per cent to Rs 3.81 billion from Rs 3.98 billion in the corresponding period last year.

“Suspension by any country normally has a cascading effect on other countries. We fear similar suspension by other countries,” a senior industry executive said.

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