Vietnam's seafood exports rise but challenges continue hinh anh 1Shark catfish being processed for export. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) Vietnam’s seafood exports increased slightly in July but the country is forecast to continue facing challenges, experts told a conference held by the Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers in Ho Chi Minh City on August 28.

Seafood exports in the first seven months raked in 4.7 billion USD, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier, but 9 percent up month-on-month in July.

While exports of tuna and crustaceans such as crab and sentinel crab remained strong, rising by 20.3 percent and 22.7 percent year-on-year, main export items such as shrimp and shark catfish, which account for 60 percent of total exports, were down from last year.

Shrimp, which accounts for nearly 38 percent of exports, recovered in July after a weak performance since the beginning of the year.

Exports to Japan increased by 11.3 percent year-on-year, and other markets apart from the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Korea too saw increases. Shipments to China were up dramatically in July.  

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said while one of Vietnam's strengths is aquaculture, it still has to import large volumes of raw seafood for processing and exporting, leading to higher prices and lower competitiveness. It imported 1.7 billion USD worth of seafood last year.

Hoe said this is due to many reasons like diseases and climate change affecting supply, inconsistent quality and unstable markets.  

He also warned that other countries are becoming more and more successful in farming shark catfish and shrimp, and Vietnam is thus set to face tougher competition.

With shrimp and shark catfish exports forecast to fall by 3-4 percent this year, VASEP plans to offer more assistance to businesses by pushing for more favourable policies, helping them overcome technical barriers, trade facilitation, and promotion of Vietnamese seafood.

It urged businesses to adopt modern technologies in aquaculture and focus on traceability of products and sustainable development.

Last year, seafood exports were worth nearly 9 billion USD, a 6 percent increase from 2017 as against a target of 10 percent. The target for this year is 10 billion USD.-VNA