The signal of the export market is gradually improving

VCN - The seafood export turnover in May 2023 reached over 808 million USD, the highest this year, indicating a positive trend in the market.
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Seafood enterprises are currently focusing on promotion and expanding seafood exports to various new markets. Image: T.H.
Seafood enterprises are currently focusing on promotion and expanding seafood exports to various new markets. Image: T.H.

According to the latest statistics from the Customs Department, seafood exports in the first five months of this year were down by over 29% compared to the same period last year, reaching only about 3.4 billion USD. However, the seafood export turnover in May 2023 reached over 808 million USD, the highest this year, indicating a positive trend in the market.

Key export markets such as the United States, European Union, China, Japan, and South Korea have all achieved their highest sales figures this year.

The main seafood products have seen a gradual decrease in the rate of decline compared to the same period. Exports to major markets such as the United States, European Union, China, Japan, and South Korea have all experienced significant growth.

Seafood exports in the first five months of this year have decreased by 10-40% compared to the same period last year. Specifically, tra fish exports have seen the sharpest decline (-40%), followed by shrimp (-34%), tuna (-31%), and squid (-12%). However, some types of marine fish have recorded positive growth: anchovies increased by 53%, lizardfish by 14%, and yellowstripe trevally by 20%.

Seafood exports to the United States and the European Union have decreased by 48% and 33%, respectively, while exports to China, South Korea, and Japan have decreased by 25%, 21%, and 8%, respectively.

However, according to the assessments of many seafood businesses, it will be difficult for the seafood consumption market to recover from now until the end of the year, or if it does, the recovery will be slow.

Analysis by Ms. Le Hang, the Director of Communications at the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, suggests that in major markets such as the United States and the European Union, besides expecting more positive economic conditions and inflation trends, a major challenge is inventory management. In 2022, these markets faced a surge in imports, resulting in high inventory levels and lower prices due to inflation shocks. Additionally, the influx of cheap products from other countries like Ecuador and India has overshadowed Vietnam's products in these countries, especially in the case of shrimp, which is a key export for Vietnam. Therefore, the short-term market outlook is not very optimistic.

The Japanese and South Korean markets have also experienced a decline in demand due to inflation, although not as severe as the previous two markets. Many businesses still see bright prospects in these two markets because Vietnam's products have a competitive advantage there. Thus, as long as inflation stabilizes gradually, exports to these markets will recover faster, compensating for other markets.

The Chinese market is considered a potential destination in 2023, as the country has reopened after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, nearly six months after reopening, the recovery of this market remains slow, with Vietnamese seafood exports to China decreasing by nearly 30%. The actual situation is different from predictions because, after three years of strict Covid-19 trade controls, the Chinese economy has been significantly affected, with reduced incomes and increased unemployment rates. As a result, domestic consumption has not yet recovered in the short term, especially when China needs to focus on reviving its own production and seafood processing industry.

However, the market situation in the second half of the year may be more optimistic compared to the beginning of the year, as Chinese people adapt to the new circumstances, and sectors such as tourism, restaurants, hotels, and basic consumer goods gradually recover.

Recognizing the current difficulties and challenges, each seafood business is implementing its own solutions. In general, businesses are using this time to review production costs, maintain a stable workforce and income for employees, and avoid expanding investments. This is also a phase where businesses dedicate time to research new products that are suitable for the post-Covid-19 and high-inflation market conditions.

The biggest concern for businesses currently is the high input costs and low selling prices, which may lead to farmers and aquaculture businesses abandoning ponds. This will create a ripple effect, as when the market recovers, there will be a lack of raw materials for seafood processing and exports, putting Vietnam's seafood industry at a disadvantage compared to other countries.

Now more than ever, the entire seafood industry needs cooperation from all levels, sectors, and stakeholders in the supply chain to find solutions and overcome the challenges of 2023-2024.

By Le Thu/ Phuong Thao

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