Vietnam is struggling to explore new markets for its agro-forestry-fishery products as the 13 percent annual plunge in export value during the first quarter was partly ascribed to the excessive dependence on traditional markets, the Government’s online newspaper reported.

Following the steepest ever fall in both export volume and value in the first three months of 2015, the coffee industry is returning its attention to the domestic market which has traditionally consumed only 10 percent of the total output.

While around 35 percent of the production in the world’s top coffee exporting countries like Brazil and Indonesia are sold domestically, Vietnamese coffee producers have largely ignored the local market, said General Secretary of the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association Phan Huu De.

De said the association will strive to boost domestic coffee sales to 15 percent.

The aquatic sector, contributing to 30 percent of agro-forestry-fishery shipments, is also looking for new markets.

It saw a 20 percent drop in the overseas shipments of fishery products in the first quarter as major aquatic exporting countries recovered and others implemented strong agriculture protection policies.

Vice General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers Nguyen Hoai Nam said decreases have been recorded in traditional markets, noting the 44 percent nosedive in exports to the US due to impacts of anti-dumping duties and the 11.73 percent fall in Japan due to JPY’s depreciation against USD.

Nam said seafood processors are seeking new partners and markets in Asia like China, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and Arab countries.

The RoK market is not too strict on technical criteria and China and its special administration region Hong Kong are accessible thanks to culinary similarities with Vietnam, he added.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the urgent solution is to overhaul the connections between agro-forestry-fishery production areas and the distribution network, promoting purchase efficiency.

Besides helping enterprises improve capacity, the ministry will also foster promotion activities and brand-building programmes to assist them in gaining a firm foothold both at home and abroad.-VNA