Marine product exports plummet to $626 mln as of 23 July

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Employees are working at marine product processing site in cold storage.

Export earnings from the fisheries sector nearly ten months (1 Oct-23 July) of the current Financial Year 2020-2021 plunged into US$626.59 million, according to the statistics released by the Commerce Ministry.
Myanmar’s marine product exports have dramatically declined this year, owing to the COVID-19 impacts and the transport difficulty.
Although some offshore and inshore trawlers started to go fishing from 15 July, they are battered by the high cost of fuel oil and fishing equipment and supplies. Additionally, the exporters companies pull down the price. The domestic fish industry flounders due to COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic shut down the wedding, donation events, festivities and restaurants. It also imposes difficulties on transportation. The restrictions caused slump in fish consumption in local market.
Moreover, the marine product exports through Sino-Myanmar border has ground to a halt following the consequences and safety measures on the imported seafood amid the COVID-19 pandemic, traders stressed.
Myanmar’s fishery export was experiencing a downturn due to the import restrictions triggered by the detection of the COVID-19 on fish imports in China.
China was the second largest buyer of Myanmar’s marine products, accounting for US$254 million out of overall marine product export value of $850 million in the past financial year 2019-2020.
At the present time, China shut down the border areas in wake of the COVID surge in Myanmar. The fishery sector is dependent on maritime trade only.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines to ensure food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic in April, 2020.
The permitted companies are advised to carry out food safety plans, follow the guidelines of WHO and FAO, formulate the safety management system and suspend the exports if any suspicious foodborne virus or virus infection risk are found in the products. The export is likely to resume once the products meet food safety criteria set by the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).
The Myanmar Fisheries Federation stated that only G2G pact can tackle problems faced in the export of farm-raised fish and prawn, and ensure smooth freight movement between countries to bolster exports.
During the last FY 2019-2020, MFF expected to earn more than $800 million from marine product exports against the target.
Myanmar exports marine products such as fish, prawn, and crab to markets in 40 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and the countries in the European Union.
The MFF is making concerted efforts to increase the marine product export earnings by developing fish farms which meet international standards and adopting the advanced fish farming techniques.
To ensure food safety, the foreign market requires suppliers to obtain Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP) certificates.
To meet international market standards, the marine products must be sourced only from hatcheries that are compliant with GAqP. The MFF is working with fish farmers, processors, and the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation to develop the GAqP system.
Processors can screen fishery products for food safety at ISO-accredited laboratories under the Fisheries Department.
Myanmar’s economy is more dependent on agricultural sector to a large extent. Also, fisheries sector contributes a lot to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Its marine product production including shrimps and saltwater and freshwater fish are far better than the regional countries. If the country can boost processing technology, it will contribute to the country’s economy and earn more income for those stakeholders in the supply chain, Yangon Region Fisheries Department stated.
There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms across the country and more than 120 cold-storage facilities in Myanmar.
Myanmar exported 340,000 tonnes of marine products worth $530 million in the 2013-2014 FY, 330,000 tonnes worth $480 million in the 2014-2015 FY, 360,000 tonnes worth $500 million in the 2015-2016 FY, 430,000 tonnes worth $600 million in the 2016-2017 FY, 560,000 tonnes worth $700 million in the 2017-2018 FY and 580,000 tonnes worth over $730 million in the 2018-2019 FY respectively, according to the Commerce Ministry.—KK/GNLM

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