Vietnam expects healthy growth for seafood exports in 2017

The value of Vietnam’s seafood exports is expected to increase by 5 percent this year to around USD 7.5 billion (EUR 7 billion) despite having to overcome many potential hurdles, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (VASEP).

Speaking at a review meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City last week, as reported by Vietnam News, VASEP Chairman Ngô Văn Ích said many difficulties in the early part of last year plagued exports before increased global demand enabled a recovery.

Exports for the full year grew by 7.4 percent in value to USD 7.05 billion (EUR 6.6 billion), accounting for 24 percent of the country’s total agricultural, forestry and fisheries exports, he said.

The value of both shrimp and pangasius exports rose by 7 percent to USD 3.13 billion (EUR 2.9 billion) and USD 1.67 billion (EUR 1.56 billion), respectively.

Vietnamese seafood was exported to 161 countries and territories last year, with the U.S.A., E.U., Japan, South Korea and China being the largest buyers.

VASEP General Secretary Trương Đình Hòe said Vietnam’s seafood sector would continue to face difficulties in 2017, including a fall in fisheries output due to the impacts of climate change.

Also making things more difficult for Vietnam’s seafood sector are moves by the U.S.A., E.U., Australia and Japan to tighten hygiene and food safety norms for shrimp and to introduce regulations related to product origin, corporate social responsibility and others, he added.

According to Hòe, Vietnamese exporters are also expected to face fiercer competition from seafood exporters in India, Indonesia and Thailand in 2017. In addition, the increase in the minimum wage imposed by the Vietnamese government at the end of last year and a labor shortage are causing difficulties to seafood processors and exporters.

“Despite these difficulties, we believe seafood exports will increase by 5 percent this year to 7.5 billion U.S. dollars,” he said.
Exports to the U.S.A. are expected to top USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.4 billion), an increase of 5 percent, which is much lower than last year’s 11 percent growth.

Due to political changes, the devaluation of the euro and slow market recovery in the EU, the value of exports to this market is likely to remain at last year’s level of USD 1.2 billion (EUR 1.1 billion), Hòe said.

Meanwhile, the value of Vietnamese seafood exports to Japan should increase by around 4 percent to more than USD 1 billion (EUR 900 million) since the value of the yen is appreciating in value.

With an increase in consumer income, demand for seafood products, especially sugpo (tiger) prawns, has increased in China, he said, but Chinese domestic shrimp production has not increased.

“China’s demand for imported seafood, especially shrimp, increased strongly last year and this trend will continue,” Hòe said.
Vietnam’s exports to China are therefore expected to pass the USD 1 billion (EUR 900 million) mark this year compared to USD 829 million (EUR 772 million) last year, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vũ Văn Tám said some countries tend to erect technical barriers to limit imports to protect their domestic production.

Vietnamese businesses need to carefully study their target export markets to avoid risks, he added.

Nguyễn Ngô Vi Tâm, general director of leading pangasius exporter Vĩnh Hoàn Co, said to enhance competitiveness, seafood firms need comprehensive policy support with markets, funding and developing reliable raw material sources.

Businesses at the meeting agreed that enhancing the links from breeding to processing and export for both shrimp and pangasius is imperative to cut costs.


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