Vietnam seafood export: Challenges and solutions

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VietStock FI English - 34 month(s) ago 8 readings

Vietnam seafood export: Challenges and solutions

So far, Vietnam seafood industry has kept a stable and sharp growth, contributing to boosting economic growth of the country. Annual seafood exports increases continuously with 15-20 percent per year. During past 10 years, Vietnam seafood shipment has been climbing by three-fold, from US$2 billion of 2002 to US$6 billion of 2011...

As of October 2011, Vietnam seafood exports reached approximately US$5 billion. The figure of two next months of 2011 is expected to gain US$1 billion, driving full-year seafood exports to hit US$6 billion. In the structure of Vietnam’s seafood importing markets in the first 10 months of 2011, EU is the largest consumer, accounting for 22.5 percent of the total seafood export, the U.S. with 19.2 percent, Japan with 15.9 percent, South Korea with 7.7 percent, China with 5.7 percent, ASEAN with 5.1 percent, Australia with 2.6 percent and others with 21.2 percent. Shrimp is still the top export item of Vietnam, making up 39.8 percent, followed by pangasius with 30.3 percent, other finfish with 12 percent, mollusk with 9.8 percent, tuna with 6.4 percent and the other species.

So far, Vietnam seafood industry has kept a stable and sharp growth, contributing to boosting economic growth of the country. Annual seafood exports increases continuously with 15-20 percent per year. During past 10 years, Vietnam seafood shipment has been climbing by three-fold, from US$2 billion of 2002 to US$6 billion of 2011.

Based on achievements gained in 2011, Vietnam seafood enterprises are striving to outreach US$10 billion by 2020 according to national seafood export development strategy 2010 - 2020, bringing Vietnam to become one of 4 largest seafood exporters in the world. However, Vietnam seafood enterprises are still encountering a lot of short-term bottlenecks.

In 2011, the total export volume of Vietnam seafood is estimated to hit over 1.5 million MT. Exported seafood is mainly processed from source of domestic raw materials (70 percent comes from aquaculture and 30 percent comes from wild catch). Farmed shrimp production is expected to attain 500,000 MT, including over 200,000 MT of whiteleg shrimp. Pangasius farming area reaches 6,000 hectares with the production of 1.2 – 1.3 million MT.

However, hiking input costs for aquaculture and catching as well as disease and bad weather are combining to unstable and scarce supply of raw materials for Vietnam seafood processors. Demand for raw fish has led to higher import of raw materials. In 2011, seafood enterprises imported more than US$500 million of raw fish for processing and exporting to satisfy international markets.

To overcome lack of raw materials so as to fulfil the target of US$10 billion seafood export by 2020, VASEP proposed some solutions as follows:

Enhancing domestic fishery production and processing capacity

- Focus on planning and developing aquaculture, environmental protection and consistent management of quality of seed, feed, veterinary drugs in farming shrimp, pangasius and other species to ensure quality and food safety and hygiene.

- Reduce 10-20 percent of post-harvest losses to increase supply of raw material for processing.

- Apply modern technologies in aquaculture to raise productivity and quality and lower the price of raw material; increase value-added products with highly economic value in accordance with consuming trend in international markets.

Boosting raw material import

- Vietnam needs to hold initiative in attracting foreign investors who bring raw material into Vietnam to process. Enterprises desire to raise raw material import from US$500 million at present to US$2.5- 3 billion per year by 2020 to take advantages of huge processing capacity (over 2.5 million MT per year), the good food safety and hygiene conditions in the region, plentiful and skilful source of labour with low cost.

- Along with importing wild-caught fish (squid, octopus, marine shrimp, marine finfish), Vietnam needs to speed up importing farmed fish (shrimp,finfish) from other countries with low competitiveness in processing industry.

- Promote tight cooperation in catching, aquaculture with foreign countries, ensure raw material preservation before repatriating Vietnam to process and re-export.

Importers are applying stricter requirements in food safety and hygiene. Controlling food safety and hygiene in production chain by enterprises to ensure quality, food safety and hygiene are causing barriers to Vietnam seafood development. There are some following suggestions by VASEP.

- The government needs to support enterprises in establishing a testing system in production chain, ensuring consistence in applying standards, practices in food safety and hygiene management from raw material producing, sourcing, transporting and processing to export.

- The government should raise awareness of farmers, enterprises and processors for their responsibilities in ensuring quality, food safety and hygiene. Administrative procedures must be simplified to save time and costs in testing exported consignments by competent authorities.

- The government should guarantee a sound banking and credit system to support and encourage farmers and fishermen to expand their production and ensure quality of raw material.

Although Vietnam seafood is exported to more than 150 countries and territories, global economic instability may reduce seafood consumption demand in the future. Besides, import countries in the world are striving to protect their domestic business by imposing trade barriers to foreign suppliers, even using untruthful information on their mass media. Besides efforts of local seafood enterprises in solving these problems and in expanding shares in international markets, Vietnam seafood sector urges the goverment:

- To invest and support enterprise community to popularize Vietnam seafood on the global through trade promotion. Vietnam should introduce a comprehensive information about its well-controlled catching, aquaculture, processing system through effective marketing activities.

- To hold initiative in overcoming trade barriers, seeking cooperative opportunities, collaborate with importers to reject untrue information about Vietnam seafood through media.

- To minimize administrative procedures causing complexity to domestic seafood processors and exporters and give them the most favourable conditions to raise their prestige, competitiveness and the value of seafood products.

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