Maldives is currently exporting tuna at a loss of USD281, says Minister of Fisheries Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan.
The minister revealed that the current rates at which MIFCO purchases tuna are not fair prices, as every tuna export is carried out with a loss. He expressed that one of the biggest challenges faced in providing a fair price to local fishermen is the tax imposed by EU on tuna exports by the Maldives.
Over the year struggles in calls for leniency on fish tariffs:
Until January 2014, Maldives exports were duty-free under the Generalised System of Preference(GSP) program— a special trade agreement extended to developing nations.
The Maldives, climbed up the ladders from least developed nation in 2011 and lost its GSP tariff benefits in 2013, meaning that exports were no longer duty-free and a 24% duty was levied.
Then-Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shafeeu said the government’s application for a year’s extension under the GSP Plus program was refused as it had not ratified all 27 required international conventions. The same request made in 2014 was refused because Maldives did not meet the required criteria again.
Yameen falsely accuses EU, makes harsh statements:
Because of the refusal, Yameen made derogatory statements towards the foreign union saying, “because we are Muslims, we are not able to accept all the individual freedoms, that is certain. We get penalized for these things, too.”
Yameen made the situation more tense by trying to shade light into the matter that EU refused to grant Maldives duty-free status on grounds of gay rights and freedom of religion.
EU denies claims and shuts down former President Yameen:
The European Union denied these claims and said that GSP plus program, a unilateral concession of the EU given to a limited number of countries based on their performance and good implementations of human rights are factors on which Maldives failed to qualify due to country’s reservation on religious freedom and concerning depleting women rights.
EU said that these conditions are existential for all countries that’s listed under GSP Plus program and not only to Maldives, exclusively.
In Maldives, customs authorities forbid the import of religious items and scan the baggage of tourists arriving at the airport, while politicians frequently use allegations of ‘consorting with missionaries’ as as a political attack.
Few Maldivians have publicly tested that calls for death penalty based on being a non-believer, apostasy is very common. One journalist who publicly called for religious tolerance narrowly survived having his throat slit in July 2012.
After the hustle & bustle:
With the coming of President Ibu Solih to the office, he managed to built up a certain dialogue with the foreign force and the 24% tariff was later decreased to 20% on behalf of the government’s request.
Last year, 58,250 fish were purchased and exported. MIFCO exported the largest quantity of fish in its history last year, which earned them a large amount in foreign currency.
According to the State Trading Organization (STO)’s Annual Report, MIFCO, earned MVR 1.2 billion from fisheries last year. This is a 17 percent increase compared to the MVR 1 billion earned in the previous year.
In Dec 2021, the month in which MIFCO bought the highest quantity of fish, was also the month the company paid the most to fishermen.
President Solih and his administration are still in the quest that continues to request for further leniencies so that the fishermen are not at a loss and that they get paid with fair prices.