Vietnam sets goal of USD 10.5 billion in seafood exports for 2019

Vietnam has set a target to earn $10.5 billion (€9.26 billion) from seafood exports in 2019, reflecting a 19.5% increase compared to the previous year. The General Department of Fisheries in Vietnam released this statement, along with plans to achieve a seafood output of 8.08 million tons (MT) this year, a 4.2% increase from the previous year.

The target includes 4.38 million MT of farmed species, a 5.6% increase, and 3.7 million MT of wild-caught seafood, a 2.6% increase from last year.

Challenges Faced in 2018 and Outlook for 2019

Vietnam did not achieve its goal of $10 billion (€8.83 billion) in seafood exports in 2018, primarily due to lower-than-expected export value of shrimp. However, the country’s actual seafood exports were valued at $8.79 billion (€7.75 billion), marking a 5.8% increase from 2017.

Vietnam sets goal of USD 10.5 billion in seafood exports for 2019

Shrimp exporters faced challenges in 2018, with a total value of shrimp exports declining by 7.8% to $3.55 billion (€3.13 billion). The decrease was attributed to reduced demand from the United States and Canada, as well as high stockpiles in Japan, South Korea, and the European Union.

Notably, Vietnam’s exports to the European Union, the largest destination for Vietnamese shrimp, dropped by 2.8% year-on-year to $838.3 million (€740.8 million) in 2018. Additionally, exports to the U.S. were valued at $637.7 million (€563.4 million), reflecting a 3.3% decrease from 2017.

Prospects for Shrimp Exports in 2019

Vietnamese shrimp exporters are expected to continue facing challenges such as oversupply and low prices in 2019. However, the signing and pending implementation of free trade agreements are anticipated to contribute to the growth of Vietnam’s shrimp exports.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which came into effect in December 2018 for several countries including Vietnam, eliminates tariffs on Vietnamese seafood exported to other member nations.

This is expected to boost Vietnam’s shrimp exports by more than 12.7%, surpassing $4 billion (€3.53 billion) in 2019. Furthermore, Vietnam is looking forward to the approval of the pending free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union, the E.U.-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

Once in effect, the EVFTA will remove approximately half of the import taxes on Vietnamese seafood products entering the E.U., with the remaining taxes being eliminated within seven years.

These trade agreements are projected to drive significant growth in shrimp exports to the European Union and South Korea, as well as to the core market of the United States.

Pangasius and Tuna Export Trends

While shrimp exports faced a decline in 2018, Vietnam experienced record-high pangasius exports, reaching $2.26 billion (€1.99 billion), a 26.5% increase from the previous year.

The United States was the leading buyer, importing pangasius worth $549.4 million (€484.5 million), a significant 59.5% increase year-on-year. China ranked second with purchases worth $528.6 million (€466.2 million), up 28.7%.

In addition, Vietnam’s tuna exports also saw a steady rise, reaching $653 million (€576 million) in 2018, a 10% increase from the previous year.

Outlook for Vietnam’s Seafood Sector

In 2019, Vietnam’s seafood sector is expected to benefit from the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and the implementation of free trade agreements. Vietnamese seafood products are likely to find new opportunities in their major markets, the U.S. and China, during this trade war.

Furthermore, the CPTPP and EVFTA will play a significant role in reducing tariffs on Vietnamese seafood, particularly shrimp, leading to increased exports to Japan and the European Union.

Despite certain challenges, Vietnam remains optimistic about the growth potential of its seafood industry in 2019. The country expects higher shrimp, pangasius, and tuna exports driven by favorable trade agreements and increased market access.

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