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Viet Nam Seafood Export: Challenges & Solutions

2011-12-23 8:29:00

VIET NAM - So far, the Vietnamese seafood industry has had stable growth, contributing to boosting the economic growth of the country. Annual seafood exports have increased continuously with 15-20 per cent per year.

The Vietnamese  (VASEP) states that during the past 10 years, Vietnamese seafood shipment has been climbing by three-fold, from US$2 billion in 2002 to US$6 billion in 2011.As of October 2011, Vietnamese seafood exports reached approximately US$5 billion.

For the first 10 months of 2011, EU was the largest consumer of Vietamese seafood, accounting for 22.5 per cent of the total seafood export. The US came next with 19.2 per cent, Japan with 15.9 per cent, South Korea with 7.7 per cent, China with 5.7 per cent, ASEAN with 5.1 per cent, Australia with 2.6 per cent and others with 21.2 per cent. Shrimp is still the top export item of Viet Nam, making up 39.8 per cent, followed by pangasius with 30.3 per cent, other finfish with 12 per cent, mollusk with 9.8 per cent and tuna with 6.4 per cent.

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

<strong>Lack of raw materials</strong>

VASEP reports that in 2011, the total export volume of Vietnamese seafood is estimated to hit over 1.5 million MT. Exported seafood is mainly processed from the source of domestic raw materials (70 per cent comes from aquaculture and 30 per cent 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 fishing, as well as disease and bad weather, are combining to create an unstable and scarce supply of raw materials for processers. Demand for raw fish has led to a 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 the lack of raw materials, so as to fulfil the target of US$10 billion seafood export by 2020, VASEP has proposed some solutions:

<strong>Enhancing domestic fishery production and processing capacity</strong>

<ul><li>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.</li> <li>Reduce by 10-20 per cent post-harvest losses to increase supply of raw material for processing.</li> <li>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.</li></ul><strong>Boosting raw material import</strong><ul><li>Viet Nam needs to hold initiative in attracting foreign investors, who bring raw material into Viet Nam 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.</li><li>Along with importing wild-caught fish (squid, octopus, marine shrimp, marine finfish), Viet Nam needs to speed up importing farmed fish (shrimp,finfish) from other countries with low competitiveness in processing industry</li>.<li>Promote tight cooperation in catching and aquaculture with foreign countries.</li></ul>

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