VN targets $7.1b seafood exports this year

Monday, Jan 09, 2017 09:00

Tuna processing at the Binh Dinh Fishery Joint Stock Company’s factory. The current export goal for seafood in 2017 has been set at US$7.1 billion, roughly the same as 2016. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh

The Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has set a goal of US$7.1 billion in seafood export revenues this year, about the same as the 2016 exports.

It targets a total fisheries production of 6.85 million tonnes for the whole year, including 3.05 million tonnes of sea catch and 3.8 million tonnes from aquaculture, Nguyen Ngoc Oai, deputy head of the directorate, said at a recent conference organised by the ministry.

MARD Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said that to meet the target, the fisheries sector should better exploit the country’s advantages in aquaculture. He noted that currently, the country has about 700,000ha for brackish water shrimp.

Tam also called for better control over diseases in terms of preventing and dealing with outbreaks.

Greater efforts to expand markets are needed to meet the export target, he added.

He said that for tra fish, an export staple, the industry should focus more intensely on tackling market barriers in importing countries and on building a strategy for developing a national brand for catfish through high quality products. Tam also highlighted the need to create a “breakthrough” in tra fish consumption in the domestic market of 90 million people.

He revealed that the ministry will organise a large-scale trade fair specialising in tra fish in Ha Noi this year.

According to the Directorate of Fisheries, seafood exports fetched about $7 billion last year. Total production was over 6.7 million tonnes, including 3.1 million tonnes of sea catch and more than 3.6 million tonnes of farmed products. The total water surface area for aquaculture was 1.3 million hectares.

The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said that last year saw a year-on-year surge of 32 per cent in tilapia export value to $45 million, while that of tra fish and shrimp reached $1.6 billion and $3.1 billion, year-on-year increase of 6.6 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.

New rule

In other development, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the removal of several types of food safety inspections for imported seafood products via Resolution 103/NQ-CP to create favourable conditions for seafood processors to export their products.

Under this resolution, exemptions are extended to food safety inspections for materials imported for export purposes, which will only be required for finished products. Finished products should need to be tested and certified by the Department of Food Safety.

Exemptions are also granted for “conformity declaration” and “conformity declaration with food safety regulations” for seafood exports for which technical regulations do not apply.

The resolution also removes the need for Vietnamese language labels for food, food ingredients, food additives, flavour enhancers, utensils and packaging material for food imported to Viet Nam in order to process products for export and not for consumption in the domestic market.

Le Thi Dieu Thi, head of Vinh Hoan Corp’s Technical Division, told the Hai Quan (Customs) online newspaper that the resolution was good news for Vinh Hoan as well as all seafood processors in Viet Nam.

She said that before this decision, foods imported for processing and re-export, including materials for processing, food additives, spices and packaging, need conformity declarations with technical regulations and declarations of conformity with food safety regulations similar to food products sold in the domestic market.

Implementing procedures on conformity announcement and announcement on conformity with regulation on food safety was a costly, time consuming process, because goods had to be stored at the port. This, in turn, caused enterprises to lose business opportunities, she said.

She explained that these procedures had to be carried out with the Department of Food Safety in Ha Noi, not sub-departments of food safety in cities and provinces nation-wide.

Vo Hung Phong, a member of the Hai Viet Corporation’s Board of Inspectors, also said the decision was the best gift for enterprises in 2016. The action of the Government partly resolved difficulties and created favourable conditions for processing of seafood products for export, he said.

Phong said that in the past, some enterprises had been fined because the seafood material imported for export processing had labels only in English.

Seafood enterprises said if obstacles in seafood import and exports were removed, they would become more competitive.

Agriculture exports

Viet Nam exported agriculture, forestry and fisheries products worth US$32.1 billion in 2016 for a year-on-year growth of 5.4 per cent.

The agriculture sector gained a trade surplus of $7.5 billion in 2016 despite facing many difficulties in production and business, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong.

Severe damage caused by natural disasters and the mass fish deaths in four central provinces had reduced the sector’s GDP growth by 0.18 per cent in the first half of 2016, Cuong said.

However, the sector had overcome several difficulties to gain year-on-year growth of 1.2 per cent in GDP and 1.44 per cent in production value, he added.

He also said 2016 was a year of strong development in vegetables and fruit exports. For the first time, export value of vegetable and fruits exceeded export value of rice to reach $2.4 billion this year, a year-on-year increase of 31.2 per cent.

Several other cash crops achieved high growth in export value in 2016, including coffee (25.5 per cent), cashew nut (18.3 per cent), pepper (12.7 per cent) and seafood (6.3 per cent). Viet Nam had 10 agricultural products that had an export value of $1 billion or more. — VNS

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