Maltese tuna debuts at CIIE, with exporters eyeing massive Chinese market
Published: Nov 08, 2023 07:31 PM
A chef showcases the tuna at the national booth of Malta at CIIE on October 7, 2023. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

A chef showcases the tuna at the national booth of Malta at CIIE on October 7, 2023. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Maltese tuna made its debut at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) and quickly became an "explosive" star exhibit. 

On Wednesday, the Global Times saw that the bluefin tuna showcased at Malta's national pavilion captivated numerous visitors with its novelty. This fish was the first tuna from the country to enter China, shipped by air after being caught by Maltese fishermen.

"Maltese bluefin tuna will officially enter the Chinese market after the CIIE, and we expect to send 5,000 to 10,000 tons of bluefin tuna to the Chinese market annually," Li Xiaonan, trade director of Base Malta, a trade and consultancy company engaging in tuna exports, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China and Malta recently signed an agreement on exporting bluefin tuna to China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"It is with great satisfaction that we announce that Maltese bluefin tuna will begin to be exported to China, a huge market with almost unlimited potential," said a press release jointly issued on Saturday by Malta's Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ministry, and its Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Ministry.

Malta is home to bluefin tuna, with about 70 percent of the annual catch being exported to Asia, especially Japan and South Korea. It is expected that Maltese tuna can occupy a portion of the high-end market in China, Li said.

The entry of bluefin tuna to the Chinese market also offered a fresh example of vibrant China-Malta economic and trade cooperation.

Malta is a member of the EU and a world-renowned tourist destination. In 2015, Malta became a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as one of the first European countries to join the bank. At the first CIIE, Malta officially joined the Belt and Road Initiative. 

"The access of bluefin tuna to the Chinese market will open new possibilities for the tuna industry, which is an important part of the Maltese export economy,"  Li said.

A large shipment of Maltese bluefin tuna is expected to enter Chinese market via sea, and the company is also exploring the opportunity to ship it with the China-Europe freight train using refrigerated trains, which should reduce time and costs, Li added.