The value of fish exports rose to MVR368 million (US$24 million) in April, up from MVR208 million in the same period last year, statistics from the Maldives Customs Service show.
Thailand was the top exporting country, representing half of total exports during the month. Other major destinations included Germany, England, United States of America and France.
The value of imports also increased by 16 percent in April with goods worth more than MVR3.25 billion. The top importing countries were the United Arab Emirates in first place with 21 percent, followed by Singapore (13 percent) and China (12 percent).
Reflecting the import growth, total revenue from tariffs and other fees and fines rose 31 percent compared to last year. Customs collected a total of MVR262 million last month, up from MVR200 million in April 2017.
According to the central bank’s annual report, the fisheries industry performed strongly in 2017 with the volume of exports growing by 55 percent in annual terms and amounting to 72.0 thousand metric tonnes.
“This growth was largely propelled by a rise in the export volumes of frozen skipjack and frozen yellowfin tuna,” the report explained.
“A significant increase in export volumes of canned or pouched tuna also contributed to higher fish export volume in 2017.”
Fish purchases “registered a remarkable growth of 42% in annual terms and amounted to 76.6 thousand metric tons” in 2017, which was driven by “a significant rise in skipjack tuna purchases, coupled with moderate growth in yellowfin tuna purchases.”
Skipjack and yellowfin tuna collectively accounted for 98 percent of total purchases made by fish processing companies. The share of the high-value bigeye tuna has fallen during the past two years.
In late 2017, local fish processing companies increased purchasing prices for the first time since July 2014, reflecting the upward trend of skipjack tuna prices in the international market.
“Yellowfin tuna prices remained relatively volatile throughout the year, starting at MVR67.5 per kilogram in January 2017 and closing at a lower price of MVR62.5 per kilogram in December 2017,” the central bank noted.