Business News of Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Source: Graphic Business

EU's actions on tuna cost local company $5m

A Free Zone company, Myrock Food Processing Company (based in Tema), lost more than US$5 million in five months as a result of recent allegations by the European Union (EU) that tuna from West Africa, including Ghana, is illegally fished and should not be allowed into the eurozone.

The company also laid off about 800 employees, as the processing of tuna, which was mostly meant for the EU market, stalled on the back of the allegations. Daily output has declined to 60 tonnes per day from the initial 100 tonnes per day.

"Since March this year, we haven't produced. Our workers have to sit at home because there is no place to sell the product," the General Manager of the company, Mr Emmanuel K. Asante, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in an interview at the Izmir International Fair in Turkey.

The fair, which ended on September 2, was the 82nd in a row. It attracted businesses all over the world.

Myrock, together with 11 other companies from the food and beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, participated in the five-day event which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors on daily basis.

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), the non-traditional exports (NTEs) promotion arm of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), sponsored the companies to the five-day event.

"The EU has really cost us a lot. Can you imagine we had over 50 40-footer containers locked up there which our agents couldn't clear yet we had to keep paying duties and demurrage on them?" Mr Asante, who represented Myrock at the fair, asked.

The EU, made up of 28 countries, in March this year failed to accept raw and processed tuna from West Africa into its market with the explanation that governments in the sub region had done little to stop illegal and unregulated fishing in their respective territorial waters.

That meant that Myrock, which exports more than 90 per cent of its produce to the EU market, had to halt its operations and look for new markets.

"As of the time we halted operations, we had products worth over US$2 million," the general manager added.

Notwithstanding the negative implications of the EU's actions on Myrock's operations, Mr Asante said' it had gingered the company to look for markets outside the EU.

He was also impressed with the overwhelming attention that the company's produce got at the Izmir Fair and promised to work closely with the relevant stakeholders to help develop that market.