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Fish shipment held up at Sri Lankan Customs released

Mariyam Malsa
15 November 2020, MVT 14:36
Employees of the MIFCO fisheries factory in Lhaviyani Felivaru. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED
Mariyam Malsa
15 November 2020, MVT 14:36

A shipment of Maldivian fish products that was held up at Sri Lanka's Customs was released on Saturday by the neighbouring country's authorities and cleared for distribution.

In August, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced intentions to halt the import of fish products as part of the measures to protect the country's domestic industries from foreign competition.

Several Maldivian fishermen have raised concerns that Sri Lanka's policy shift has resulted in export difficulties with the delays requiring them to discard certain portions.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the shipment was released after Foreign Ministe Abdulla Shahid and the Maldivian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka discussed the matter with some of the country's leading officials.

The ministry noted that further deliberations were ongoing to ensure the streamlined export of fish to Sri Lanka.

On October 16, Minister Shahid stated that Sri Lankan authorities guaranteed that there would be no restrictions on Maldivian fish exports to the neighbouring country.

The foreign minister made the announcement following discussions with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

The Maldivian fisheries industry was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with several major exporters reporting lower sales.

The majority of Maldives' export revenue is sourced from exports of fish products, with raw fish shipments accounting for as much as 70 percent.

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