A survey by the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep) found that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was hitting seafood companies hard, especially since the beginning of March.
Vasep said that most seafood companies saw declines of 35-50 per cent in orders due to cancellations, delays or shortages of raw materials.
Many companies felt that the impact of COVID-19 would become more serious as the pandemic has spread more rapidly since the start of the month.
According to Vasep, exports of tra fish to China have stalled since January and exports to European Union (EU) markets were also encountering difficulties in March as the bloc closed its external borders. Demand was also dropping as people stayed at home to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
In mid-March, exports to the Middle East, Asia and South Africa also started to struggle.
Vasep said most seafood companies were suffering shortages of raw materials.
Around 35-50 per cent of orders for shrimp to the US and EU were delayed or cancelled due to low demand for consumption. Still, shrimp exports saw slight increases of 2.6 per cent to $383 million, mainly thanks to the increase of 16 per cent in exports to Japan while exports to China fell by 37 per cent and to EU by 15 per cent.
Seafood producers and exporters both faced high inventories, Vasep said.
Statistics from the General Department of Customs showed that seafood exports totalled more than US$990 million in the first two months of this year, a drop of 11 per cent against the same period of 2019.
Exports to China fell by 44 per cent, EU by 20 per cent, ASEAN markets by 4 per cent and the Republic of Korea by 9 per cent.
Vasep said that seafood exports to China in the first quarter of this year would see a drop of at least 20 per cent due to low demand in China and interrupted transportation via border gates due to the pandemic.
Tra fish exports would suffer the most as China was the largest market for Việt Nam’s tra fish, accounting for 35 per cent. Tra fish exports to China dropped by 52 per cent in the first two months and to the EU by 40 per cent.
Several tra fish companies expected exports to China to recover from next month and return to normal from June.
Vasep urged producers to focus on improving the quality of tra fish to promote exports to the US from next year.