Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burma's fishery export downward trend continue

by Myo Thein
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:31

Rangoon (Mizzima) – (Analysis) Despite Burma’s fishery products being a good revenue earner in the export market, this year also it has taken a beating and failed to achieve the target.

The target for fishery product export sector in the 2009-10 fiscal year is USD 700 million. However, the actual export until over two weeks ago after the first quarter has touched just over 21 per cent of the total export target.

It is learnt that a total trade value of USD 147.922 million has been exported from 1 April 2009 to 15 August 2009. The trade value through normal trade has touched USD 93.862 million so far.

“Our trade volume in the export market is higher than last year but the trade value is lower as the prices are falling following the global financial meltdown. We have to negotiate with our buyers with great difficulty to reach an agreement in a buyer’s market,” a cold storage owner said.

“The trade volume is higher than previous corresponding months. But the trade value is lower than last year so we cannot yet reach the export target,” a director level official from the Fishery Department said.

Fresh water fish export accounts for the lion’s share in the fishery products export with about 26 per cent of the total trade volume. The trade value of such fresh water fish export through ‘Normal Trade’ (going through border exit ports officially) has reached USD 39.619 million of which the major export item is ‘Nga Myit Chin’ (variety of carp), it is learnt.

The deadly cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy Delta region leaving over 130,000 people dead and millions of people homeless. One of the consequences of the cyclone is decline in fishery product export.

Despite the export target for 2008-09 fiscal year being USD 850 million, the actual export touched only USD 483 million, which was 56 per cent of the target. This trade value was USD 78 million lower than the value of USD 561 million in 2007-08 fiscal year.

Fishery product export through border exit ports such as Myeik (Mergui) and Maungdaw during the four and-a-half months of this fiscal year starting from 1 April are USD 25.163 and 1.881 million respectively. But the export through the sole Sino-Burma border exit port is USD 16.411 million.

The river crab exporters expect more export this year than in the 2008-09 fiscal year. The river crab exporters earned USD 2 million more than in 2007-08 fiscal year. The exporters could do breeding work successfully in a mass production scale in major export items to the China market. The export value rose due to the success in breeding and culture of soft shell fresh water crab, the exporters said.

After exports declined due to the global financial crisis, the fishery department explored the new export market in EU in association with the Myanmar Federation of Fishery and invited experts from EU countries and tried to abide by the stringent EU regulation.

But the requirement of the EU regulations in the fishery market is too high. So many cold storages and jetties withdrew from inspection by EU experts.

The export market is more competitive as fishery products from India entered the Bangladesh market, which is the major trading partner of Burmese fishery exporters.

“Currently India has banned export of fishery products but they enter Bangladesh market through illegal channels as the two countries have a long and porous border. India cannot control all illegal trading. Moreover the traders can save tax by operating through these illegal channels. So our exporters cannot compete with them. We only get a low price,” an exporter said.

Fishery business is flourishing in India but it has currently banned official export of fish and fishery products for self-sufficiency in the domestic market.

Despite the growing export of fishery products, the demand has fallen currently thanks to the global crisis, decline of demand in high-value fishery products and falling prices. So it is very difficult to reach the export target, a member of the Myanmar Federation of Fishery Rangoon Division said.

According to official statistics, the export value of Burmese fishery products is just 12 per cent of the total export earning of the country. It is the fourth largest export earner after gas, beans and pulses, and forest products.