China's 1Q seafood exports up

China’s trade surplus in aquatic products hit USD 2.09 billion (EUR 1.6 billion) in the first quarter, an increase of 15.88 percent year-over-year. According to statistics, Japan continues to rank first as an export market for aquatic products from China, while the United States slipped from second place to fourth place, behind Southeast Asia.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become China's third largest export market, after Hong Kong. However, these figures may be slightly skewered given particularly high growth in exports to Hong Kong — some of this volume may be for re-export.

According to statistics from Chinese Customs, the total amount of imports and exports of aquatic products in the first quarter of 2013 reached 1.93 million tons while total value reached USD 6.61 billion (EUR 5.2 billion), up 1.85 percent and 11.47 percent respectively year-over-year. Exports totaled 901,500 tons worth USD 4.60 billion (EUR 3.6 billion), up 4.53 percent and 12.68 percent respectively.

In a note on the figures, China Aquatic Products Processing & Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) noted the seafood processing trade however continued to decline in the first quarter: exports of what CAPPMA terms “general trade” (a term that refers to non-processed products) grew to 595,800 tons worth USD 3.385 billion (EUR 2.6 billion), a year-over-year increase of 8.29 percent and 20.05 percent respectively.

The slip in processing would tally with observations by China’s agricultural ministry, which oversees the seafood sector: it noted the share of processing trade declined to 28.6 percent of aquatic export value in 2012 (compared to 33 percent in 2010). Notes the USDA in its annual (2012) report on the Chinese industry: “Nevertheless, both Chinese industry and official sources claim that China is becoming the world’s processing center for mackerel, salmon, cod and herring. Industry sources note that the number of enterprises involved in the processing trade is on the rise, especially in Shandong and Liaoning.”

Meanwhile, indicators of the sources of export growth are visible at a regional level. A key southerly aquaculture base, Fujian province reported particularly strong demand for canned crabmeat. According to the Fujian provincial customs authorities, the province exported 202,000 tons in the first quarter, up 36.6 percent compared to the previous year, while revenues reached USD 1.46 billion (EUR 1.13 billion), up 49.2 percent year on year. Fujian’s statistics showed that Southeast Asia is the biggest export destination of the seafood from the province.

Fujian exported 970,000 tons seafood to ASEAN states, up 31.5 percent from the previous year, taking 48.2 percent of Fujian’s total seafood production. China has a free trade agreement with ASEAN. North of Fujian along the eastern seaboard, Shandong province meanwhile ranks as China’s number one province in terms of export of seafood products — key Shandong cities like Qingdao and Yantai are a convenient 90 minute flying time from Tokyo. 


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