A shrimp processing factory in Hau Giang province (Photo: VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) – The fisheries sector is aiming at 10 billion USD in the export of aquatic products in 2019, a year-on-year rise of 11 percent, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

To that end, it will work to increase the total aquaculture production by 3.6 percent to 4.3 million tonnes, including 1.4 million tonnes of tra fish and 852,000 tonnes of shrimp of all kinds, up 3 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.

 It will also strive to catch 3.68 million tonnes, up 2.5 percent year-on-year.

 The sector will effectively carry out the national action plan on shrimp development by 2025, the master plan on the development of the shrimp industry by 2025, and the three-tier cooperation plan for the production of high-quality tra fish breeds in the Mekong Delta until 2025.

 Inspections will be intensified to control the quality of feed and products improving the farming environment, prevent the use of banned antibiotics, and antibiotic abuse in aquatic farming.

 More inspection teams will also be organized to supervise the implementation of regulations related to the management and use of fishing vessels at localities, and the granting of registration licenses to ship owners.

Speaking at a conference to discuss export plans in HCM City on February 16, VASEP Chairman Ngo Van Ich said Vietnam’s seafood exports last year had been worth 9 billion USD, a year-on year increase of 6 percent, and met the target.

Of which, Tra fish exports had surged 26 percent to 2.26 billion USD thanks to increased buying by the US and China and the recovery of the EU market, he said.

But shrimp exports were down 8 percent to 3.6 billion USD due to a drop in demand in a number of markets such as the US and Canada and higher production by competitors like India, Indonesia and Thailand, resulting in a 15-20 percent fall in prices, he added.

Ich said last year had also been difficult for the industry after the EC imposed a yellow card warning on Vietnamese seafood for failing to make progress in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

But things would look up this year, he noted.

“Exports increased by just 6 percent last year, rather low considering the sector’s capacity. The sector can absolutely achieve growth of 10 percent and even 12 percent a year if it is developed in the right direction.”

With its potential and preferential tariffs from free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the sector would achieve an export turnover of 10 billion USD this year, he said.

“In 2019, shrimp exports are expected to be better because the US Department of Commerce recently announced the final results of the 12th period of review (POR 12), lowering the anti-dumping tariff on shrimp imports from Vietnam.”

Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP General Secretary, said the export of shrimp, tra fish and other seafood products was expected to reach 4.2 billion USD, 2.3 billion USD and 3.5 billion USD this year.

The sector would also work to get the EC yellow card warning lifted this year, he said.


But the many positive signals notwithstanding, the sector also faces many challenges in terms of raw materials, competitiveness and market barriers.

“Actively sourcing raw materials is always an advantage to businesses, but this is not being done well.”

Climate change, saltwater intrusion in rivers and diseases are some of the reasons causing a shortage of raw materials while the anti-dumping duty imposed by the US and its Seafood Import Monitoring Programme have also created pressure on businesses, according to Hoe.

Raw shrimp prices are higher than in other countries in the region and other input costs have also increased, affecting Vietnam’s competiveness.

Ich and Hoe agreed that to achieve the targets the sector would need a specific development strategy with a focus on preventing shrimp diseases, stopping the use of chemicals in aquaculture, capitalising on preferential tariffs under the Vietnam-EU FTA, which takes effect this year, to boost exports to the EU, and importing legal seafood materials for processing for export.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong hailed the export efforts last year, but said the target of 10 billion USD for this year would be very high despite having a firm foundation to achieve it.

Shrimp exports were looking up, tra fish was popular in many markets and seafood exploitation was gradually becoming sustainable.

To accomplish the export target, stakeholders in the fisheries value chain from the exploitation and processing stages to distribution and exports needed to further enhance cooperation and improve the management at each stage.

The exploitation and production of raw materials had to follow clean processes and comply with input quality standards while the processing phase had to improve technology and management to reduce production costs.

Besides sustaining traditional markets, companies and business groups had to find new markets but also exploit the lucrative domestic market of nearly 100 million people and 15 million international visitors annually.-VNA