Forecasts suggest that 2019 is likely be another year when the fisheries export industry in Vietnam see increased revenues. However, experts warn that the industry must enhance the quality of seafood products in order to reach this year’s production goal.
Vietnam fisheries exports are thriving. A recent report suggested that the expected revenue from the industry is likely to hit $10 billion (an increase of 10% on last year’s exports) by the end of 2019. Nguyan Ngoc Oai, the acting director of the General Department of Fisheries (GDF) confirmed this goal in July of this year when he spoke about the need to focus on devising measures to overcome the European restrictions following alleged illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Consistent increases in revenue
The Vietnamese fisheries export industry has seen increases in revenue of about $1 million (average of 6%) year on year for the past 10 years. And although there are great prospects for 2019 it is clear there are a few hurdles which need to be negotiated in order to keep revenues high. For instance, as stated above, relations with the EU need to be made better so tariffs are likely to be lifted on exports and also there remains an inconsistent demand for shrimp in major traditional markets.
Higher quality seafood products
The acting director of the GDF was speaking at the review in Hanoi which was especially set up to examine the performance of the sector and how it can be improved in the future. It was put forward by some delegates that sales maybe enhanced further by focusing more on higher quality products. It was felt that businesses should build brands which reflect high quality, promote the added value and make clear how waste was reduced during processes. This approach would be in line with the need for better standards in the industry sustainability issues were taken into account appropriately.
As well as creating higher value seafood products it was proposed that there was a need to invest in new technology while making the best possible use of raw materials during the production process.
Vietnam is relying specifically on Tra fish and shrimp exports to reach the $10 million goal. Tra fish exports have surged by 26% to $2.26 billion, thanks to increased buying by the US and China.
Strong competitors a threat with Tra fish exports
Tra fish is leading the way in the fisheries export sector for Vietnam. But rather than being complacent, experts warn that the industry still needs to up its game to compete with its nearest rivals (China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India). A representative from Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has said that once quality is improved further, it will stand a far better chance of being sold online (via the e-commerce platform of China’s Alibaba and on Amazon).
Shrimp exports fall in Vietnam
On the other hand, shrimp exports and prices have fallen due to a fall in the demand from such markets as the US and Canada. Things have been made doubly difficult by the EU imposing tariffs due to Vietnam’s inability to reduce illegal fishing sufficiently. However, experts feel that ground can be gained from preferential tariffs through free trade agreements. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership specifically is expected to achieve exports worth $10 billion alone this year.
Alongside these new free trade agreements for Vietnam is the news that the US has revisited earlier tariffs on Vietnamese exports with positive effects. Shrimp exports are expected to fair better as the US announced that it will be lowering the anti-dumping tariff on shrimp imports from Vietnam.
A need to enhance production technologies
The industry has become aware of the fact processes for keeping produce free from bacteria and diseases has not been as good as it could have been in the past. There needs to be a specific development strategy which focusses on production techniques. Hopefully this will produce higher standard produce, and, in turn this may help sustain traditional markets where custom may be currently falling.
But again, Vietnam has many competitors in the shrimp sector. For instance, India has a current target of tripling the domestic seafood output. The country has begun exporting Black tiger shrimp to Japan which is a major traditional export market for Vietnam.
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