Europe against duty-free fish exports as they are not allowed to fish in Maldivian waters: Fisheries Minister

Local fishermen out at sea | Photo: Rosie Magudia

Malé Maldives – Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed on Tuesday, said that the 24 percent tariff presently levied for fish exports to European countries is not being reduced because European fishing boats are not allowed to fish in Maldivian waters.

Collection of duty from the fish exported to European countries first started when Maldives was promoted from a least developed country to a developing country back in 2011. With this change, the prices of fish in Europe also increased.

Europe has a list of conditions to be met, before they remove duty-free on exports from developing country. This includes having to sign several human rights agreements decided by the country. However, as the agreements calls for religious freedom, Maldives has refrained from signing them.

Giving an interview to local media outlet Adhadhu, Minister Hussain said that they are facing difficulties in paying fair prices to fishermen solely from the export of frozen fish to Thailand. He added that the solution to this problem is being able to export fish to European countries duty-free.

Fisheries Minister Hussain also said that they have the opportunity to decrease duty after discussions with the European Union. However, Maldives has been unsuccessful in doing so, even with the efforts from the previous administrations.

In addition to this, Minister said that the Maldivian embassy in England is currently trying to reduce the tariff and that it will be a huge success if it is possible. However, Minister said that they are not decreasing the duty free due to the competitiveness between Europe and Maldives when fishing in the Indian Ocean.

Minister also said that Europe is allowing duty free exports to those countries who give them the opportunity to fish in that particular country’s oceans and that it is not possible for Maldives to do so. Minister noted that this is what he believes and that Europe has not made any official statements on this.