The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) estimated that seafood exports would reach about 7 billion in 2014, 4.5 percent more than last year, reported the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Economic News.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s sources as saying that seafood exports came to an estimated 679 million USD in August 2014, taking the total to 4.95 billion USD in the first eight months of this year, up 25.4 percent from the same time in 2013.

Shrimp exports alone amounted to 2 billion USD in the first seven months of 2014.

The US, Japan and the EU remained the largest importers of Vietnamese shrimp, with Japan becoming the biggest importer of Vietnamese black tiger shrimp. In the first seven months of 2014, seafood exports to the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the US grew 100-298 percent compared to the same period last year.

Russia, one of the biggest importers of Vietnamese seafood, officially lifted the embargo on Vietnamese seafood in late August 2014. This is expected to help Vietnamese businesses to increase their seafood exports in the remaining months of the year.

Previously, the fact that Russia applied an embargo on Vietnamese seafood in early 2014 in addition to difficulties in major markets including Europe, the US and Japan caused Vietnamese seafood exports in general and Tra fish exports in particular to suffer difficulties in the first six months of this year.

According to VASEP, Tra fish exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries reached 87.5 million USD from January to mid-August 2014, up 13.3 percent from the same period last year. ASEAN was the third biggest importer of Vietnamese Tra fish, after the EU and the US. Thailand and Singapore were the biggest ASEAN importers of Vietnamese Tra fish.

Tra fish exports to the Middle East came to US$ 90.65 million in the first half of 2014, up 7.5 percent from the same time in 2013. Saudi Arabia was the largest Middle East importer of Vietnamese Tra fish, after Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Vietnam is piloting a tuna production line according to Japanese standards in three central provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa. This is important to improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese tuna products and increase Vietnam's seafood exports in 2014.

VASEP said that since last year, Tra fish exports to major markets such as the US and Europe have faced many difficulties and therefore Vietnamese seafood exporters are interested in shifting to smaller markets. With reasonable prices and good quality, Vietnamese Tra fish is loved in these markets.

About 100 Tra and Ba Sa fish farms in Vietnam, totaling more than 2,800 hectares of water surface, accounting for about 40 percent of Vietnam’s total Tra and Ba Sa fish farming area, have achieved VietGAP, ASC, BAP, and SQF 1000/2000 CM certifications. Notably, 2,000ha of the 2,800ha were awarded the GlobalGAP certification.

According to VASEP, shrimp exports in 2014 will likely exceed 3.5 billion USD if disease control is well implemented and good sales to markets are maintained, and Tra and Ba Sa fish exports will probably reach 1.8 billion USD in 2014, taking the country’s total seafood export revenue to 7 billion USD this year.-VNA