After enduring consistent falls during the opening two quarters of the year, Vietnamese seafood exports bounced back with a slight rise of 2% from the same period last year to reach approximately US$2.4 billion. Most notably, export turnover in September reached US$790 million, an annual leap of 9%, bringing seafood exports during the nine-month period to close to US$6 billion, a fall of 4% on-year.
This year, as a result of the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, trends relating to seafood consumption in the global market have changed. Indeed, products that are typically bought by service segments such as Tra fish, also known as pangasius, and other affordable products have encountered falls in demand because of social distancing measures and lockdown orders imposed in numerous nations globally.
Among the country’s export staples, only shrimp enjoyed positive export growth during the first nine months of the year, accounting for a dominant proportion of over 44% of the nation’s aquatic export value, while tra fish exports endured a steep drop of 23.6% on-year.
Since the start of the year, the nation has shipped seafood items to the leading markets such as Japan, the United States, China, the EU, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and ASEAN.
According to predictions made by experts, amid complicated developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the potential for a third wave of outbreaks globally, along with the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the domestic community, local seafood exports during the final quarter are anticipated to face difficulties. These challenges include a recession due to decreased demand, the pandemic having a negative effect on production, and an overall reduction in raw materials.
Despite this negative context, the country seafood still has plenty of opportunities in several key markets. In relation to the US market, the nation can continue to promote shrimp exports, especially white-leg shrimp due to this product still selling well in the retail segment. As such, the country is able to increase processing and the export of products with a long shelf life, such as canned tuna and other marine fish.
As for the EU market, despite the COVID-19 pandemic reducing demand, making it difficult to trade seafood, white-leg shrimp consumption is also witnessing an upward trend.
Furthermore, local seafood products such as shrimp, tuna, octopus, squid, and molluscs now enjoy a 0% tax rate due to the implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) on August 1. This reduction in tariffs will serve as extra leverage to boost exports to the EU market ahead in the remaining months of the year, particularly if enterprises with good raw materials are able to effectively take advantage of tax incentives on offer from the trade deal.
The VASEP therefore forecasts that Vietnamese seafood exports in the last quarter of the year will reach approximately US$2.3 billion, a slight drop of 2% compared to the same period last year. Of the figure, shrimp is expected to grow by 9% to US$1.1 billion, Tra fish will drop by 31% to US$ 365 million, and other seafood products will hit roughly US$854 million, an increase of 7.5% on-year.