Saudi Arabia blocks Myanmar fisheries products at its ports

Saudi Arabia has seized around 30 containers of Myanmar fisheries products at its ports, said U Ye Min, a member of the Myanmar Fisheries Products Processors & Exporters Association.

He said the Saudi authorities would not permit the products to enter the country and the containers have been left at the ports. The fisheries in each container are worth up to US$80,000.

“It is not because of COVID-19 that the goods are being held back. We understand that the Saudi Arabia Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) changed its policy on accepting Myanmar products,” he said.

“Despite the announcement, goods were still shipped after private negotiations between the departments from both sides. We exported freshwater fish to Saudi Arabia as agreed and this problem occurred only when the goods arrived at the ports,” he said.

Saudi Arabia was once the biggest importer of Myanmar fisheries. The country banned imports from a handful of ASEAN countries, including Myanmar, since April 2018, after it detected some bacteria on marine products from Vietnam.

However, marine products that meet Saudi Arabia’s cold storage and processing standards were permitted from Myanmar last year.

The Myanmar authorities have contacted the Saudi Foreign Ministry via the Myanmar Embassy in Riyadh to negotiate permission for the containers to enter the country.

Myanmar’s requests in the negotiations include Saudi Arabia accepting the containers and removing any remaining restrictions on Myanmar fresh-water fish imports.

It also asked the Saudis to approve exports from Myanmar marine factories as only one out of 19 factories has received Saudi approval so far.

U Ye Min reckons the containers will likely be accepted. “The goods will go bad by the time they are returned,” he said.

Myanmar exports marine products, such as fish, prawns, and crabs, to markets in 40 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and countries in the European Union.

Export earnings from the fisheries sector up to September 11 in the last fiscal year totalled US$810.9 million, an increase of US$119.8 million from the year before, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms in Myanmar and more than 120 cold-storage facilities in the country.

Source : Myanmar Times

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