The China-Japan seafood war could have an unlikely winner: Russia

China is a top seafood importer.

Florence Lo/Reuters

Beijing has banned Japanese seafood imports following the release of treated radioactive water.
On Friday, Russia said it hopes to increase seafood exports to China, Reuters reported.
Heavily sanctioned Russia is already one of the largest suppliers of marine products to China.

Sanctions-hit Russia is eyeing China’s massive seafood market after Beijing banned Japanese imports following Japan’s release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean.

“The Chinese market in general is promising for Russian fish products. We hope to increase the number of certified Russian companies and ships, the volume of products, and its range,” Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s food safety watchdog, said in a Friday statement, Reuters reported. 

China — one of the world’s top seafood importers — has banned all Japanese seafood imports following the release of the treated wastewater from Thursday onward, saying it was important to “protect the health of Chinese consumers, and ensure the safety of imported food,” according to an official notice.

The Japanese government said it needs to release the treated wastewater as its storage tanks are full, and the discharge is safe. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also vouched for its safety.

Russia is already one of the largest suppliers of marine products to China, according to Reuters. The Rosselkhoznadzor said in July that 894 Russian companies have clearance to export seafood to China, which imported $15.3 billion worth of seafood in 2020.

There may be more opportunities for Russian seafood exports as the country reels from sweeping sanctions and boycotts over its invasion of Ukraine. US and EU sanctions against Russia do not target food products. 

Russia exported 2.3 million metric tons of marine products worth about $6.1 billion in 2022. Half of the overall catch went to China, South Korea — where there are protests over Japanese seafood safety — and Japan.

Russia’s food safety watchdog did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.

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