China stays world’s top seafood exporter

Published on
February 6, 2014

China’s seafood exports broke the USD 20 billion (EUR 14.7 billion) mark last year for the first time. Fisheries officials in China will be ecstatic that 2013 export of aquatic products totaled USD 20.26 billion (EUR 14.9 billion), from volume of 3.95 million metric tons (MT) — an increase of 4.15 percent and 6.74 percent respectively.

This means China keeps its place as the world’s top exporter of seafood. Yet it appears that China is also growing its imports faster. The brief note from the ministry of agriculture doesn’t give a figure for imports. Interestingly, the figure given for “total import and export of aquatic products” in 2013 is 8,129,000 MT, or USD 28.9 billion (EUR 21.3 billion), up 2.58 percent and 7.12 percent, respectively. That suggests that imports (a large percentage of which are for re-export) shaded exports in overall volume terms.

Many of China’s government departments remain on an official week-long holiday until Friday, at which point more details may become available. Published by the Ministry of Agriculture, which oversees fisheries, the data sheet seen by SeafoodSource suggests that Chinese seafood exporters are seeing a rebound in global export markets — while also cornering markets in emerging economies like Southeast Asia and Africa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last year put export value for 2012 at USD 18.5 billion (EUR 13.6 billion), up 4 percent compared to 2011, thanks largely to increased prices.

“Most Chinese industry insiders believe that a stable recovery of global economies support higher aquatic exports in the near future,” noted a USDA report. Imports grew from 2.52 million MT in 2000 to 3.89 million MT in 2008 and to 5.36 million MT in 2011. In value, imports grew from USD 2.27 billion (EUR 1.7 billion) to USD 5.4 billion (EUR 4 billion) in 2008 and surged to USD 15.8 billion (EUR 11.6 billion) in 2011.

In releasing the latest data China’s Ministry of Agriculture noted that the figures for 2013 suggest the export of aquatic products have “overcome the downturn in the world economy” but warned “the situation has yet to be fully repaired.” It also pointed out “the impact of increased trade barriers and other unfavorable factors” as a barrier to rapid growth.

China's per capita consumption of seafood is growing by an average 10 percent annually according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

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