CANNED fish exported to Fiji's main markets overseas earns $200million annually and this can further boost the fishing industry if there is growth in the European Union market for fresh, frozen and chilled fish.
Ministry of Fisheries and Forests permanent secretary Inoke Wainiqolo said the main export countries for Fiji's canned fish were Australia, New Zealand and the EU.
He said the EU was one of the biggest markets for Fiji in terms of the fishing industry and negotiations were in the pipeline to grow the industry with an outcome expected to be finalised in March.
"When we enter into this market, we expect the value to be more than what we are currently having. We are value-adding resources such as fresh, frozen and chilled fish," he said.
Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali said Fiji and the Pacific ACP's success in securing favourable Rules of Origin for the export of cooked or processed fish (commonly known as global sourcing provision) was the result of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations.
"The ministry is now working with firms such as Golden Ocean to extend these favourable rules to fresh, frozen and chilled fish, under the Comprehensive EPA," Mr Ali said.
"The rules agreed under the EPA did not only impact Fiji's trade with the EU but is likely to impact Fiji's future trade with Australia and New Zealand.
"So as a business, even if you have no plans to focus on the EU market, it is still important that you take part in these consultations, especially if you are exporting, planning to export or are in competition with countries such as Australia and New Zealand."
Mr Ali said EPA was seen as a vehicle of trade — the private sector was the driver while the Rules of Origin provided the engine for the vehicle or the trade agreement.
"Fijian private sector has an important role in this process. From a regional perspective, you have experience and could lead regional exports into the EU. The gains made in negotiations with your help will also benefit the region," he said.
This contribution, Mr Ali said, had been recognised by government and led to significant reforms in trade.