December 10, 2011


Sri Lanka's fish exports to the West slow down



Slowing demand in key Western markets has affected fish exports from Sri Lanka, a top export promotion official said.


This comes as the island is trying to develop the industry into a key foreign exchange earner.


But demand is expected to bounce back, said Janaka Ratnayaka, chairman of the Export Development Board (EDB).


Fisheries exports had been growing strongly as production increased after the end of the 30-year ethnic war in 2009 and increasing demand from key markets like the EU, Japan and the United States.


"Now there's a slight negative impact due to the problems faced by our markets especially in Europe and the US which are having problems due to the sovereign debt crisis," Ratnayaka said.


"These are the largest markets for our fisheries products. We hope the set back is temporary and that demand will improve.


"We faced challenges like this previously like many years ago when the quota system for garments exports ended and the GSP Plus (duty free trade deal) withdrawal by the EU two years ago," he said.


"We thought our export industry would face a severe crisis but it did not happen.


"Even after the removal of GSP Plus the industry managed to bounce back with positive growth rates in 2010 and up to now in 2011. We hope a similar thing will take place in the fisheries industry as well."


Ratnayaka spoke at the opening in Colombo of the 26th Session of INFOFISH Governing Council of which he is the current chairman.


Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry & Commerce of Sri Lanka, said the value of exports has increased to US$202 million in 2010 from US$103 million in 2005, indicating an average growth of 15%.


During January October 2011, Sri Lanka produced 309,580 tonnes of marine fish and 47,450 tonnes of freshwater fish, he said.


Sri Lanka exports around 172 million tonnes of fish annually.


INFOFISH (Inter Governmental Organization for Marketing, Information and Technical advisory Services for Fisheries Products in the Asia and the Pacific Region) is a regional project under the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation with 14 member countries.

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