Tuna firms eye 8 percent export rise hinh anh 1Ocean tuna being processed at Tam Quan seaport in Hoai Nhon District, central coastal province of Binh Dinh. (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - Tuna exports are expected to increase by 8 percent this year to 507 million USD, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (Vasep).

Vasep Deputy Chairman Nguyen Hoai Nam said tuna exports fetched nearly 470 million USD in 2015, with fresh and frozen fish accounting for 54 percent.

The exports went to 105 markets, with the US being the largest buyers, followed by the EU, ASEAN, and Japan, he said.

Tuna exports to the US were worth an estimated 190 million USD, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent, making Vietnam one of the biggest exporters to that market.

Exports to ASEAN member countries increased by 24 percent last year, but exports to the EU and Japan were down by nearly 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

In the case of Japan, while fresh and frozen tuna shipments were down, export of processed tuna enjoyed good growth.

The depreciation of the yen affected exports to Japan, though volumes recovered at the end of the year, Vasep said. But tuna export revenues have been dropping relentlessly in the past four years, it said.

This was due to falling global prices and increasing competition from the likes of Indonesia, the Philippines and Ecuador.

Global demand for the fish recovered in the third quarter of last year, and is expected to increase further this year, Nam said.

With the free trade agreements the country has signed, like with the Eurasian Economic Union and the Republic of Korea, Vietnamese tuna would attract lower import tariffs in those markets compared to its competitors, he said.

An ongoing trial project for tuna fishing, buying, processing, and consumption is expected to help improve quality and competitiveness, he said.-VNA