Japan’s development aid agency is helping Myanmar leverage sagging shrimp and prawn exports, urging the emerging country to boost capacity enough to compete with its Asian rivals.

With support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization (Myantrade) has drafted its first research paper since it was formed in 2016, aiming to facilitate a government review of policies related to the aquaculture business, said Aung Soe, director-general of Myantrade.

Myanmar’s shrimp and prawn exports to Japan, its largest market, sank by more than half to $18.92 million in fiscal 2016 from $39.18 million in fiscal 2012 due in part to an increase in domestic consumption, according to Myantrade.

Kazuo Mishima, JICA’s team leader for the project on enhancement of investment promotion and export development in Myanmar, said the country “needs to increase its export supply capability as well as product quality and value.”

Myanmar, one of the fastest-growing countries in the region, lags far behind other shrimp-exporting nations. Its share of exports to Japan was 4 percent in 2016, versus 27 percent for Vietnam and 24 percent for India, the research shows.

Myantrade suggests shrimp farming should be encouraged through tax incentives and eased regulations. The research will provide the government great support in improving the business environment for the domestic and export markets, Aung Soe said.

For its next project, Myantrade, overseen by the Ministry of Commerce, will conduct research on the sesame business with the help of JICA, which has supported its capacity building since October 2016.

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