Interview with Giuseppe Joe Rotondella
Chief Executive Officer of Myanmar Atlantic Co., Ltd
Please introduce yourself and Myanmar Atlantic.
My name is Giuseppe Rotondella but everyone calls me Joe. I’m an Australian citizen living in Myanmar. Our Australian based Atlantic Limited came here in 1996 for fisheries. In 1998, we joined forces with the Myanmar Pearl Enterprise to set up new hatchery technology in their existing building on Pearl Island, providing all of the equipment, generators and expertise to produce South Sea Pearls. I made a commitment to pass on our hatchery technology to the people of Myanamr whose pearling industry over the past 50 years had gone into decline. Thus, I am proud that Myanmar Atlantic pioneered the fresh start of pearling in this country.
Once our first project on Pearl Island in 1998 was done, we moved to a new island location and built a new world-class hatchery, worksite, jetty and accommodation alongside a school for the local village at Don Pale Aw. Although we had the right to remove our original hatchery equipment and generators from the Pearl Island site, we made the decision to leave them as they are still fully functional to support the Myanmar government pearl farm with new equipment.
To operate Myanmar Atlantic, we needed a large team of people, experts from both Myanmar and Australia – technicians, marine biologists, divers, engineers – to make it successful. It was not easy to transform a greenfield site into an operational pearl farm. Besides, Myanmar Atlantic is the first ever pearl farm that doesn’t kill the oysters after harvesting the pearls (usually the oysters are killed after harvesting) given the culture and Buddhist beliefs in Myanmar.Today, there are 10 pearl farming companies, and the Myanmar golden pearls are among the best in the world.
When was your first time in Myanmar and how was it different from now?
Prior to 1996, when I first arrived, Myanmar had been closed off for many years. I remember that there was very little electricity power, and I was amazed that the people had been able to keep going for so long without any imports of most goods in a country. Then, in the past 15 years, the difference has been amazing with credit to the different governments that each of them has contributed various positive changes. It is my belief that in time, Myanmar will become one of the top countries in Asia.
What opportunities do you see in Myanmar’s pearl farming business?
I’m talking now from the factor of the pandemic – Who can predict anything today about what will happen in any business? However Myanmar’s pearling business is by far, an enormous quantum leap ahead of where it was years ago, to now being the producer of the best golden pearls in the world. The opportunities for investing in the pearling business are strong. I believe Australia is still the best producer of white South Sea Pearls, but Myanmar is by far the leader in producing golden pearls and will continue to grow in quality.