|Processing aquatic products for export. Photo: T.H|
According to statistics of the General Department of Customs, in April 2021, Vietnam’s seafood exports of all kinds reached US$750.1 million, up 21.8% compared to April 2020. Generally, in the first four months of 2021, the country’s seafood exports reached US$2.49 billion, up 10.5% over the same period last year.
The Import and Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade) assessed that seafood exports in April 2021 will continue to recover after facing difficulties in 2020 and the first two months of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic reducing the consumption demand of many markets and affecting logistics activities.
With positive growth in March and April 2021, Vietnam’s seafood exports in the first four months of 2021 have recovered to pre-pandemic levels when it increased by 2.7% compared to the first four months of 2019.
The United States is Vietnam’s largest seafood export market, as exports in the first four months of 2021 increased sharply compared to the same period in both 2020 and 2019, increasing by 28.2% and 25.5%, respectively. The proportion of seafood exports to the US market increased from 15.9% of the country’s total export value in the first four months of 2019, to 19.5% in the first four months of 2021.
“In 2020 and the first months of 2021, despite the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, the demand for seafood imports and consumption of this country increased, showing that US consumers tend to towards increasing the choice of seafood in meals,” said a representative of the Import and Export Department.
In the Japanese market, with a growth of 4.7% compared to the first four months of 2019, the proportion of Vietnam’s seafood exports to the Japanese market increased from 17% to 17.3% in first four months of 2021.
In addition to being quick to adapt to the market’s shifting trends in demand, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union FTA (VNEAEU) and the Vietnam-UK FTA (UKVFTA) are supporting forces for Vietnamese businesses to boost exports and increase their share in the total value of seafood exports to other markets such as the UK, Australia, Canada and Russia in the first four months of 2021.
Regarding Vietnam’s seafood exports to China, the EU and South Korea, the Import-Export Department stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the proportion of exports to these markets.
It is forecasted that Vietnam’s seafood exports in the coming months will continue to grow thanks to increased demand from the US and EU; especially the demand for high-end seafood from the EU when restaurants are reopened.
After many months of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Europe is making progress in vaccination, the economy is gradually recovering, many countries in the region are opening up, even welcoming international tourists. France has allowed the reopening of outdoor bars and restaurants on May 19, 2021 as the number of Covid-19 cases requiring active treatment is decreasing. Germany is also expected to allow restaurants to serve guests outdoors.
In Belgium, after seven months of complying with social distancing measures, restaurants and cafes have been allowed to reopen to welcome outdoor guests and the Government is considering reopening festivals in the second half of summer.
In Austria, from May 19, 2021, restaurants, hotels, theaters and sports centers reopened, welcoming visitors with negative Covid-19 test results.
The Polish government has allowed hotels to reopen at 50% occupancy. Outdoor dining is allowed starting May 15, 2021, from May 29, 2021, guests can dine in the restaurant.
In the UK, Covid-19 restrictions were further relaxed from May 17, 2021, allowing people in the country to meet in private homes or pubs, as well as in-house restaurants.
However, some experts estimate that the lack of shipping containers due to congestion at ports in the US and Europe and high shipping rates will partly affect seafood exports of Vietnam.
The new wave of Covid-19 that is breaking out in Asian countries may cause difficulties for Vietnam’s seafood exports to Asian markets in the near future such as China, Japan, Korea and Thailand in the context of a shortage of containers.
In addition, this outbreak will also make China tighten its control of imports and cross-border trade, affecting trade with China.