China foreign policy strategy delivers Middle Eastern buyers for tilapia producers

Published on
March 7, 2017

One of China’s top tilapia-producing regions is thanking the central government’s cornerstone foreign policy for opening up shipments to Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

The Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Bureau on the island province of Hainan is crediting the “One Belt, Two Roads” policy – which seeks to trade higher volumes of products from China to countries in the region through better transport links, subsidised by China – with helping to create a 36.8 percent jump in seafood volumes shipped in 2016 to countries targeted by the policy. It pointed to 16 countries, with Iran, Malaysia, Israel and the Philippines top of the list.

Hainan, which produces shrimp and tilapia, shipped USD 142 million (EUR 134 million) worth of product in 2016, up 49.6 percent year-on-year.

The 16 Silk Road countries now cumulatively stand as third-biggest buyer of Hainan seafood. Malaysia bought 4,856 tons, worth USD 3.82 million (EUR 3.61 million), while Iran bought 11,463 tons worth USD 41 million (EUR 38.8 million) – up 88.3 and 330 percent respectively.  Israel bought 13,167 tons for USD 35 million (EUR 33 million) from Hainan producers in 2016 – Israel has tended to buy low-cost tilapia filets in particular, and The Philippines bought 6,111 tons worth USD 21.55 million (EUR 20.4 million), a rise of 18.5 percent and 67.1 percent, respectively.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines are seafood exporters themselves, but as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), they enjoy a free-trade deal with China, which has sought to increase exports of processed products to the region. 

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