One million jobs at risk in Myanmar’s hard-hit seafood industry


The near-collapse of Myanmar’s aquaculture and fisheries exports as a result of countries shutting borders amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to about one million job losses in the industry. This would amount to almost 30 per cent of the sector’s entire workforce, according to officials.

“Exports have collapsed. All international orders are currently cancelled and we have not received any new orders from the European Union and the US since they are all locked down,” U Myo Nyunt, secretary of the Myanmar Fisheries Products Processors & Exporters Association (MPEA), told the Myanmar Times.

The European Union and North America account for about 45 per cent of Myanmar’s aquaculture and fisheries exports, while the remaining 55 per cent are mainly shipped to China, Japan and Thailand.

Originally, Myanmar’s forecast of seafood export revenue was between $750 million and up to a record of $1 billion for this year, but as processing plants have not been able to deliver after the government ordered factory closures to stall the spread of the virus pandemic in February, it has been slashed to $350 million.

With losses mounting in April and May, the MPEA expects fishing and aquaculture activities to grind to a halt from June to August, while the aquaculture sector could face longer disruption if farmers are unable to restock during this time. As a result, the MPEA is projecting the largest loss in history for the sector for the period between March and August and the industry is now calling on the government for more aid.

No cash flow, no loans: Small firms folding

Hnin Oo, senior vice president of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation, told Bloomberg News that cash flow for many companies, most of them small, has almost dried up. Most of them are unable to get working capital loans from commercial banks due to a lack of collaterals and were forced to use the services of illicit black market lenders which charge much higher interest rates. As a result, a number of businesses have already collapsed.

The situation is particularly precarious for Myanmar’s coastal regions, where as much as 56 per cent of regional revenue comes from the fisheries sector and one third of the local workforce earns a living from seafood and marine products, according to a 2019 World Bank report.

Domestically, sales at Yangon’s San Pya fish market, the nation’s biggest wholesale outlet for marine and seafood products, have plunged by almost half since the coronavirus outbreak, Hnin Oo said.



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The near-collapse of Myanmar’s aquaculture and fisheries exports as a result of countries shutting borders amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to about one million job losses in the industry. This would amount to almost 30 per cent of the sector’s entire workforce, according to officials. “Exports have collapsed. All international orders are currently cancelled and we have not received any new orders from the European Union and the US since they are all locked down,” U Myo Nyunt, secretary of the Myanmar Fisheries Products Processors & Exporters Association (MPEA), told the Myanmar Times. The European Union and North America...


The near-collapse of Myanmar’s aquaculture and fisheries exports as a result of countries shutting borders amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to about one million job losses in the industry. This would amount to almost 30 per cent of the sector’s entire workforce, according to officials.

“Exports have collapsed. All international orders are currently cancelled and we have not received any new orders from the European Union and the US since they are all locked down,” U Myo Nyunt, secretary of the Myanmar Fisheries Products Processors & Exporters Association (MPEA), told the Myanmar Times.

The European Union and North America account for about 45 per cent of Myanmar’s aquaculture and fisheries exports, while the remaining 55 per cent are mainly shipped to China, Japan and Thailand.

Originally, Myanmar’s forecast of seafood export revenue was between $750 million and up to a record of $1 billion for this year, but as processing plants have not been able to deliver after the government ordered factory closures to stall the spread of the virus pandemic in February, it has been slashed to $350 million.

With losses mounting in April and May, the MPEA expects fishing and aquaculture activities to grind to a halt from June to August, while the aquaculture sector could face longer disruption if farmers are unable to restock during this time. As a result, the MPEA is projecting the largest loss in history for the sector for the period between March and August and the industry is now calling on the government for more aid.

No cash flow, no loans: Small firms folding

Hnin Oo, senior vice president of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation, told Bloomberg News that cash flow for many companies, most of them small, has almost dried up. Most of them are unable to get working capital loans from commercial banks due to a lack of collaterals and were forced to use the services of illicit black market lenders which charge much higher interest rates. As a result, a number of businesses have already collapsed.

The situation is particularly precarious for Myanmar’s coastal regions, where as much as 56 per cent of regional revenue comes from the fisheries sector and one third of the local workforce earns a living from seafood and marine products, according to a 2019 World Bank report.

Domestically, sales at Yangon’s San Pya fish market, the nation’s biggest wholesale outlet for marine and seafood products, have plunged by almost half since the coronavirus outbreak, Hnin Oo said.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

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