Bluefin tuna grown in Maltese fish farms will now be exported to China, following the signing of a new importation agreement between the two countries. 

The agreement was signed by Foreign Minister Ian Borg with China Vice Minister Sun Yuning during Borg’s visit to China.

In a statement published on Saturday, Borg said that discussions have been ongoing for a number of months and that the signing continues to strengthen the Maltese product to grow. 

China will now be added to the list of other Asian countries Malta exports tuna, as the country already exports tuna to Japan and even South Korea. 

Borg said that the government aims to extend this type of agreement with other countries in order to continue contributing and pushing Maltese and Gozitan businesses abroad.

Foreign Minister Ian Borg's comment after signing an agreement to export bluefin tuna to China. Video: MFET

Earlier this year, Fishing Minister Anton Refalo said that exporting to a single market is a problem, and wanted the tuna sector to diversify its markets. 

He said that currently, 95% of Malta’s tuna goes to Japan, and said this is a problem, as many times Japan re-exports Maltese aquaculture products to China for a much higher price. 

In a response to the new agreement, Refalo said Malta will be tapping into a huge market with almost “unlimited potential”. He said that this will ensure that the fishing sector will remain economically sustainable for the time to come by curbing the dependence on one market. 

He said it will also provide new opportunities for further expansion, both in quality and quantity of bluefin tuna exported, as well as other fish exported from Malta. 

On her end, Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Agriculture and Animal Rights Alicia Bugeja Said emphasised how the bluefin tuna that is caught, or farmed in our country, is one of the most sought-after products in the international markets.

“I recall how between 2020 and 2023, Malta exported between 16,000 and 20,000 tonnes of tuna to various countries, including Japan, Europe and America.”

Malta will participate in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai from 5 to 10 November 2023. 

Trade Malta, the Malta Food Agency and Aquaculture Resources Limited will have a dedicated stand at the Expo.

 Borg, will attend the opening of the Maltese stand on 5th November.

The local fish farming industry is not without its controversies. 

Last year, a factory operated by Aquaculture Resources Limited, a company jointly set up by Malta’s largest tuna ranchers to process excess tuna into ingredients that can be exported, has faced backlash from Birżebbuġa residents over foul smells. 

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