Significant Decline in January
Vietnam’s seafood exports experienced a sharp decline of 25 percent in January compared to the previous year, primarily due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. According to a report from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), total seafood exports during the month amounted to $556 million. Notably, pangasius fish exports plummeted by 64 percent, octopus by 50 percent, and tuna by 30 percent.
Lunar New Year Effect and Ongoing Challenges
The decline in seafood exports in January was partly attributed to the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday, known as Tet in Vietnam. However, the report also highlighted that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak would continue to affect seafood exports in February and March. The epidemic has severely limited exports to China, a significant market for Vietnamese seafood products.
Potential Drop in Exports to China
The report anticipates a potential 30 percent decrease in seafood exports to China during the first half of the year, amounting to approximately $400 million. However, the extent of this decline will depend on the level of border trade restrictions. If limitations on cross-border trade remain relatively contained, the adverse effects on seafood exports may be somewhat mitigated.
China as an Important Market
China holds significant importance as Vietnam’s fourth-largest market for seafood exports in 2019. With exports worth $1.23 billion, the trade between the two countries witnessed a remarkable 22 percent growth. The current situation poses challenges to sustaining this positive growth trend, as the outbreak continues to impact trade flows between Vietnam and China.
In summary, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has had a significant negative impact on Vietnam’s seafood exports, leading to a substantial decline in January. With limited exports to China and the likelihood of continued challenges in the coming months, the overall outlook for the seafood industry remains uncertain. Continuous monitoring and adaptation will be crucial to mitigate the effects of the epidemic and maintain stability in the sector.