"The Middle East is a market opportunity that we need to optimize," said the ministry's head of Fish Quarantine, Quality Control and Fishery Product Safety (BKIPM), Rina, in a press release here on Saturday.
The fish health insurance system is in accordance with international standards prescribed by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), FAO (Codex), and special provisions of trading partner countries, including the Middle East, she explained.
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Based on data from the International Trade Center (2020), the average demand for fishery products from Middle Eastern countries during the 2017-2019 period grew by 4.3 percent per year, Rina informed.
The import value of fishery commodities from the Middle East during the same period was around 2.64 percent of the total import value of fishery commodities from other countries, she added.
In 2017, the import value of Middle Eastern fishery commodities reached US$3.05 billion, and in 2019, it increased to US$3.32 billion, or around 2.67 percent of the total import value of fishery commodities from other countries, she said.
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While Indonesia has exported canned tuna to a number of countries in the Middle East, its exports to the region are still far behind Thailand, which controls 71 percent of the Middle East import market for tuna, mackerel tuna, and skipjack products, she pointed out.
National business actors can tap into the potential marked for catfish and other freshwater fish in the Middle East, she said.
"So far, Vietnam has dominated the Middle East market for catfish," she added.
The ministry believes that the increase in Indonesia's marine and fishery exports has been the result of rising global demand, which is expected to improve the performance of the national economy amid the pandemic, she said.
"Marine and fisheries sector recorded positive performance in the first five months of 2021," said director general of strengthening the competitiveness of marine and fishery products, Artati Widiarti, on Monday.
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The trade balance in the sector recorded a surplus of US$1.9 billion, equivalent to Rp27 trillion, or an increase of 3.72 percent compared to the year-ago period, she informed.
Cumulatively, the export value of fishery products during January-May, 2021 reached US$2.1 billion, up 4.94 percent compared to the corresponding period of 2020, she said.
The value of exports was high for the main commodities, including shrimp, which contributed US$ 865.9 million, or 41 percent of the total export value; followed by tuna, skipjack, and mackerel tuna, which contributed US$269.5 million, or 12.7 percent of the total export value; as well as squid, cuttlefish, and octopus, which contributed US$223.6 million, or 10.6 percent of the total export value, she informed.
Meanwhile, the main export destination countries were the United States, which accounted for US$934.1 million or 44.2 percent of the total export value, followed by China, which accounted for US$311.2 million, or 14.7 percent of the total export value, and ASEAN countries, which accounted for US$230.7 million, or 10.9 percent of the total export value, she added.
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