The Vietnamese fisheries sector has grasped opportunities arising from the current trend of global integration, placing the country fifth in the world rankings in terms of seafood production and export after a record 6.8 billion USD worth of total shipments were made last year.

In a recent interview granted to Vietnam News Agency, Deputy General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) Nguyen Hoai Nam said shrimps for overseas delivery recorded a growth of nearly 40 percent while others saw stagnancy or even decline.

This was partly due strong global demand while supplies declined due to widespread epidemics in farming areas abroad - including those in Vietnam .

Responding to figures that show 96 percent of exports to China are raw materials, resulting in an unstable supply at home, Nam said VASEP reported this to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while taking action to promote exports of value-added products as China remains a major market.

Asked about how the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership will influence the sector, Nam said it is a win-win deal. More specifically, the tariff will slump to zero percent while the global demand remains high, making it easier for exporters to gain strong footholds in TPP member countries, particularly Japan and the US.

However, to get a competitive edge over their rivals in this playing field, Vietnamese firms must improve their product quality and output, he added.

Discussing opportunities offered by the free trade agreement between Vietnam and Europe , the VASEP official said with an average tariff of 7-10 percent, seafood is now among five hard-currency generators for Vietnam in Europe with over 1 billion USD in annual turnover.

As Europe lists quality as the top criteria, Vietnam should focus on this issue in order to maximise the opportunities, Nam said, adding that after joining the World Trade Organisation, Vietnam has issued the Law on Food Safety & Hygiene and a range of regulations to ensure that its seafood processors are qualified to supply goods to this market.

Vietnam is shipping aquatic products to over 150 markets. Besides traditional partners such as the US , Japan and Europe , China and India have emerged as potential importers of Vietnam ’s aquatic products, according to the VASEP Deputy General Secretary.

He said other promising markets in South America, the Middle East and Islamic nations will come under the association’s radar in the coming time.-VNA