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Seafood exports face many difficulties in 2022

13:26 | 05/01/2022

VCN - After overcoming difficulties in 2021, Vietnam's seafood exports are forecast to continue to face many challenges in 2022. Solving breeding problems, increasing price competition, as well as research to develop new species of aquaculture, are basic solutions to help the seafood industry accelerate exports.

Processing pangasius for export. Photo: VNA
Processing pangasius for export. Photo: VNA

Set target of US$8.9 billion

Talking about the factors affecting seafood exports in 2022, Nguyen Quang Hung, Deputy Director General of Directorate of Fisheries (D-Fish, the MARD), assessed that, in favorable terms, the world economy grew again after the vaccination strategy for the whole population was implemented, and the Covid-19 pandemic was under control.

According to the General Department of Fisheries, seafood export turnover in 2021 is estimated at US$8.89 billion, an increase of 5.7% compared to 2020 (US$8.41 billion), reaching 104.6% of the plan (US$8.5 billion). If including fishmeal and aqua feed (US$685.2 million), the total seafood export value in 2021 will reach US$9.57 billion, equaling 107.6% compared to 2020 (total US$8.89 billion).

Vietnam has opportunities of taking advantage of the incentives of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA).

However, the leader of D-Fish also said that the challenge is that the Covid-19 pandemic is still complicated with the appearance of new strains. The trade between countries is still difficult, international freight rates have not tended to decrease.

“Another outstanding factor is the increasing requirements for food safety and traceability of markets; the "yellow card" of the European Commission (EC) has not been removed. Labor in fishing is lacking in quantity and has not met the requirements in terms of quality,” said Hung.

Besides, the situation is complicated in terms of security and order at sea (countries strengthen control of fishing vessels, fishing grounds are narrowed); new regulations of the Fisheries Law 2017 on sustainable, effective and responsible fishing management are being implemented, but there are still many difficulties, obstacles and challenges for the fishery sector's 2022 plan.

According to Le Ba Anh, deputy head of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), the number of seafood processing and exporting enterprises has seen very positive growth in 2021. However, in 2022, the pandemic will continue to be a major obstacle to seafood production and exports; especially when there are differences in Covid-19 control policies between countries. For example, currently, Vietnam is having difficulty exporting seafood to China while this country applies the "Zero Covid-19" policy.

In addition, the status of using antibiotics and food additives in seafood continues to be an issue; changing targets of import markets is also a matter of concern.

“In 2021, the quality and safety of aquatic products has significantly improved, and the abuse of chemicals on shrimp and pangasius has decreased. However, there are also signs of an increase in other products such as snakeheads, tilapia. The NAFIQAD will continue to work closely with D-Fish to carry out tasks related to the control of residues, chemicals in aquaculture and preservatives in the exploited objects,” said Le Ba Anh.

In terms of numbers, by 2022, the whole fishery industry is aiming for a total fishery output of about 8.73 million tons, equaling 100.03% compared to 2021. In which, fishing output is about 3.78 million tons, aquaculture production is about 4.95 million tons. Seafood export turnover reached about US$8.9 billion, equaling 100.1% compared to 2021.

Looking forward to developing a new seed

Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the issue that the business community is most concerned about is price. In order to export sustainably depends on many things, price is the core to promote exports and is the decisive factor in the export of Vietnamese seafood in the next three, five, or ten years. A survey by VASEP showed that seed is one of the factors that determine the price, and the survival rate of the seed determines the price of key commodities such as shrimp and pangasius.

“Vietnamese seafood is facing competition with Ecuador and India. In 2021, Ecuador will shift sharply to increase its export market share in Europe and the US, and decrease its market share in China. Specifically, Ecuador has reduced the rate of exports from 53% to 45% in China and increased in the total of two markets in Europe and the US to 46%. Their shift will create new competition with Vietnamese seafood. Enterprises hope that in the future, D-Fish will continue to promote the issue of seed," said Nam.

The VASEP Deputy Secretary General said that, in the past 10 years, Vietnam's seafood exports have increased rapidly, thanks to the participation of the new product, white leg shrimp, which creates great value. “So in the next 10 years, we hope to have a new seed. We're looking at seaweed with huge global demand, and there's also tilapia. Hopefully, in 2022, there will be a new seed of farming, which will help create new momentum faster than efforts to increase exports by 1-2% on old seed,” said Nam.

Nguyen Quang Hung said that in 2022, D-Fish will continue to implement signed FTAs such as the CPTPP, the EVFTA, UK-Vietnam FTA (UKVFTA), which effectively ensure the export target of the industry, aim for a sustainable aquaculture industry; at the same time, continue to negotiate and sign cooperation agreements with other countries (such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar) to solve the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to remove the “Yellow Card” of the EC.

By Thanh Nguyen/ Kieu Oanh