Vietnam will continue expanding its seafood export market in 2014 after successfully increasing export value last year, noted the Vietnam Association Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Nguyen Hoai Nam, VASEP deputy general secretary, told VNews, the Vietnam News Agency's television network, that local seafood exporters will focus on pushing exports, especially value-added products, to China to increase the export value in that market and in India and the Middle East due to their rising demand for seafood products.

In addition, local exporters will continue driving seafood exports to traditional markets such as the US, the European Union (EU) and Japan as the economic recovery is stepping up demand for the consumption of goods and services, including for seafood, he stated.

This year, if trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the EU are signed, they will create advantages in exports for all involved, including for seafood products, Nam claimed.

To make use of these advantages for boosting exports, local seafood exporters should focus on increasing output and improving quality further for export seafood products, he said.

Under the agreements, he explained, tariffs are zero or at a low level but the export markets will add stricter non-tariff barriers for exported products, including barriers based on origin, quality standards, food hygiene and safety, and standards of preservation and packaging.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam gained a year-on-year surge of 10.1 percent in the export value of seafood to hit 6.7 billion USD in total for 2013, including 617 million USD for December.

The US was still the largest seafood export market for Vietnam, accounting for 21.89 percent of the total seafood export value of last year.

Meanwhile, the export value of seafood to China, Canada and Thailand last year also saw a surge of 62.87 percent, 33.65 percent and 7.53 percent respectively, against 2012.

Nam noted that at present, Vietnam is one of a few countries with high competitive ability in selling seafood products on the world market because it has an adequate fisheries supply, high quality seafood products, and seafood exporters with integrative abilities.

In October 2013, Vietnam gained a record high of 776 million USD in export value for the year due to the high growth in the export value of prawns and shrimp, Nam remarked.

The value of shrimp and prawn exports last year gained a year-on-year increase of 40 percent, while other kinds of seafood products remained at the same rate or even reduced because of high demand for shrimp on the world market and the low supply from other producers due to a shrimp disease outbreak.

Vietnam develops prawns and white leg shrimp, Nam stated, and the country has received more orders to export prawns and shrimp, so export prices for those products have increased.

The nation will continue to see sustainable development of the prawn and shrimp market for the near future, he said, because local shrimp exporters have had a low supply of prawn and shrimp in recent years as Chinese traders have purchased these for export to China through the border gates.

The association has called on the State to adopt policies that encourage the export of value-added seafood products to China to enhance the total export value, he added.-VNA