Before the ban, China, including Hong Kong, accounted for 42% of Japan's seafood exports, but the impact of the ban on Japan may not be as severe as it appears. In 2022, Japan's seafood exports were valued at $1.4 billion, with less than $600 million going to China. The majority of these exports (63.7%) consisted of scallops and other mollusks, while frozen fish (14%) and fresh fish (10.7%) made up smaller portions.
Fan Xubing, the principal of Beijing-based Seabridge Consultancy, suggests that China's domestically farmed scallops, totaling 1.9 million metric tons in 2022, could meet domestic demand without the need for imported Japanese scallops. This could benefit countries like Canada, Peru, and France, as China imported 2,340 metric tons of scallops from Canada in 2022.
Russia has also taken steps to address the supply gap created by the ban on Japanese products by banning all Japanese seafood imports. The Russian food safety watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, plans to increase exports to China to meet the demand created by the ban. Over 50% of Russia's annual seafood exports, valued at $6.1 billion, already go to China.
Rosselkhoznadzor will engage in discussions with Chinese officials on seafood safety issues and regulations governing Russian seafood imports into China. The organization has increased its testing of seafood caught in Russian waters for radioactivity but believes that ocean currents in the Russian Far East will prevent contamination of its marine products.
In summary, while the ban disrupts seafood trade between Japan and China, it offers opportunities for other seafood-producing nations to fill the void created by the ban and increase their exports to China.