Burmese seafood redirects away from China

Published on
November 21, 2016

Expectations that Burma, or Myanmar, might become a future supply line for neighboring China have been quashed with the release of recent data showing exports of Burmese seafood to China have fallen sharply.

Myanmar, in Southeast Asia, is emerging from a dictatorship and opening its economy to the outside world. The country’s exports to the United States, Europe and Singapore are all up, noted the Chinese language report from Xinhua, China’s official newswire.

Chinese press have reported that “better prices in new export markets” are to blame for the fall of Burmese trade to China; Myanmar shipped 78,720 tons in 2015-2016 to China, down from 91,780 tons exported to China in 2011-2012.

Yellow croaker from Myanmar was long a low-price presence in Beijing supermarkets before Myanmar’s political reform from 2012, which saw the Southeast Asian nation reopen its ties with Western markets.

Long a close ally of China, and blessed with a long coastline and bountiful waterways, Myanmar has nonetheless struggled to build a significant aquaculture or processing sector due to the nation’s patchy power supply and infrastructure. Difficult Burmese transport infrastructure also makes its product less competitive globally.

For China, while its seafood supply from neighboring states is tightening, its purchases of product from further afield have soared. China has a busy, established marine transport connection to Latin America due to strong Asian demand for agricultural commodities like soy. Imports of Argentine shrimp into China rose 163 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2016, with large additional volumes thought to be coming through Vietnam into China.

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