Seafood Expo Global, the world’s largest seafood trade fair, took place in Brussels earlier this month. This trade fair brings together 25,000 of world’s top buyers and sellers for three days of sourcing products and networking with industry professionals and government officials.
Last year there were exhibitors from 80 countries, buyers from 145 countries, 74 national and regional pavilions – including a U.S. pavilion – and over $150 million in off-the-floor sales. It’s a big deal for the U.S. seafood industry: This year, 30 U.S. companies exhibited in either association pavilions or individual booths, and an additional 30+ U.S. operators visited the show.
As the representative of the NOAA Fisheries Service at the U.S. Mission to the EU, Seafood Expo Global is one of the highlights of my year. NOAA (with our colleagues from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has maintained a booth at the trade fair since the show’s inception in 1992. As usual, it attracted a large number of people, U.S. operators as well as representatives of EU institutions and third country officials.
A special guest this year was Ambassador Gardner, who came to discuss issues of concern to the U.S. seafood industry, such as market access. There are a number of technical barriers to trade due mainly to EU sanitary and catch certifications and to the wide range of interpretations of EU seafood import regulations by the Member States. This can lead to blocked U.S. shipments and loss of revenue for the shipper.
From the U.S. perspective, the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations constitute a unique opportunity to expand transatlantic seafood trade. It’s an exciting time to be working on U.S.-EU seafood issues in Brussels.
By Stephane Vrignaud, Representative of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration