Shrimps: key export for Vietnam
Lying at the junction of Asia, Africa and Europe, the Middle East serves as a gate for goods to penetrate neighboring regions. It is also a promising new market for Vietnamese seafood.
Despite the negative impact of the European public debt crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) reports that Vietnam’s seafood exports have maintained steady growth and are estimated to hit US$500 million in May to raise the total value in the first five months of this year to US$2.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9.8 percent.
However, compared to the same period last year, seafood export values saw a sharp decline of 26.4 percent in Germany, 10.9 percent in the Netherlands and 16.3 percent in Italy.
Meanwhile, seafood exports to the Middle East witnessed a dramatic rise in earnings, which helps cover revenue losses in the European market and provides impetus for for the seafood sector to continue growing.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said seafood products shipped to the Middle East have increased in value from US$192 million in 2009 to US$225 million in 2010 and US$274 million in 2011.
Vietnam is boosting seafood exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait, it said.
Of those countries, the UAE is Vietnam's largest customer and a crucial gateway for transporting goods to other Middle Eastern and North African nations.
The UAE is a major crude oil exporter, as well as the second biggest economy in the Muslim world, and ranks 17 th among the world's 61 most competitive economies. However, its seafood production can only meet 25 percent of its total demand so it must import the remainider from other countries.
The UAE mainly imports butterfish, anchovies, garrupa, tuna, lobster, mollusks, tra fish and salmon from Vietnam.
Tuna exports to the UAE have increased noticeably in value from US$522,000 in 2009 to over US$2 million two years later.
Meanwhile, tuna exports to Sudan reached nearly US$1.5 million in revenue in the first four months of this year, an enormous year-on-year increase of 655 percent, making it one of the top ten importers of Vietnamese tuna.
This shows positive results from efforts by domestic tuna producers to seek business opportunities for exports to new markets in the Middle East. Seafood exports from Vietnam have many advantages in the region and they are now in ever increasing demand.
Many Middle Eastern countries are heading east for trade and investment, which creates more opportunites for Vietnamese goods to penetrate and increase their shares in those markets.
With average annual economic growth of 6-14 percent, the Middle East region is considered a market with great potential for Vietnam.
Although, there are no strict regulations for product quality and packaging, Vietnamese businesses still face uphill battles because of legal and technical obstacles, as well as the ways of doing business in this market.
They also suffer from a high risk of payment, unstable security, a lack of information, fierce competition due to low import taxes and a poor network of Vietnamese representative offices in the region.
To overcome these problems, the Vietnamese Directorate of Fisheries and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) recently sent a number of trade delegations to survey the Middle Eastern market.