Sliding scale: Fish exports slip away

Fish industry exports are likely to fall further this year as both over-fishing and under-investment continues to bite, officials from the Myanmar Fishery Federation (MFF) warned.

Although the easing of sanctions opened up EU and US markets to exports, the industry cannot make the necessary investments in fish processing and refrigeration that it needs if firms wants to compete on the international market.

The fishing industry also began to suffer three years ago as over-fishing hit both fresh-water and salt-water fish catch sizes.

“There is no possibility to be able to provide the sector with proper capital supports. And catching the same amount of saltwater fish is harder because of over-fishing by modern techniques,’’ MFF vice chair U Hnin Oo told The Myanmar Times.

The export industry was worth US$650 million in the fiscal year of 2012-2013, but that fell to $536 million in 2013-2014. U Hnin Oo said exports could continue falling this year.

At the moment only 14 out of more than 100 frozen seafood factories in Myanmar meet EU market standards.

“To export our fish to EU and US markets, we need to produce quality products which the Western markets will accept. For the Myanmar businessmen, they cannot afford to promote their factories to produce quality products as they don’t have enough capital,’’ U Hnin Oo said.

Since last year Yangon-based industrial zones have also suffered from electricity shortages. During the summer period from March to May they have had to reduce their working hours and production has slowed.

“We need electricity all day,’’ Toe Nandar Tin, owner of the Annawa Dewi seafood product factory in Yangon Region said.

Business owners are now pinning their hopes on loans from foreign banks which may be allowed to begin lending money this year, after sanctions were eased.

However the Central Bank of Myanmar has yet to confirm when licences for foreign banks will be issued and in the meantime fishers say local banks are proving inadequate.

“The interest rate of loans of the local banks is still much higher compared to that of foreign banks and loan sizes are also very small. Moreover the loan they can provide is a short-term loan and needs to be repaid after a year,” said MFF general secretary U Win Kyaing.

Source Myanmar Times

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