NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar government will work with private seafood factories to resume fish and prawn exports to Saudi Arabia, which banned their import in April, said Deputy Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Minister U Hla Kyaw.
The deputy minister was responding to a question from lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt during an Upper House session on Thursday about the government’s efforts to overturn bans on seafood imports from Myanmar in Saudi Arabia, the US and the EU and on its plans to find new markets.
The US imposed a ban on imports of prawns from Myanmar because Myanmar’s fishing boats and nets do not use turtle excluder devices.
On Jan. 30 the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) announced a temporary suspension of fish and prawn imports from Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, effective as of April 1.
“Our ministry will help local fish factories to meet the regulations of the SFDA so that we can continue our export of aquaculture products to Saudi Arabia,” U Hla Kyaw said.
The ban was based on the World Organization for Animal Health’s Quarterly Aquatic Animal Disease Report covering the Asia-Pacific region for April, May and June of 2017. According to the SFDA, it shows that white tail disease is present in some parts of Myanmar.
“There are international-standard fish processing factories in Myanmar. They can stand inspection. But if you’d check the breeding part, breeders usually feed fish together with poultry and swine, so it will fail the inspection,” said U Toe Nandar Tin, vice president of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation.
Myanmar earns between $20 million and $35 million annually from fish and prawn exports to Saudi Arabia, according to the deputy minister.
The Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Ministry expects to earn $700 million from seafood exports globally in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and has earned $663 million as of March 11.
Myanmar’s seafood exports head mainly to China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Bangladesh, Australia and to countries in the Middle East and Europe.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.