Seafood exports expected to hit US$5.3 billion

Although most seafood businesses have not earned a profit in recent times due to increasing input costs and other difficulties such as lack of materials, they are expected to reach their US$5.3 billion export target.

Difficulties

Seafood exports to most major markets grew, such as the US (up 39 percent), Germany (up 32 percent and Canada (up 200 percent). Tra fish and shrimp also maintained growth in their traditional US, Japan and EU markets.

However, according to the Vietnamese Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), Vietnamese seafood products still face many challenges. For example, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) put Vietnamese tra fish on the red list in the 2010-2011 manual guidelines for seafood consumers in six European countries.

Although export values increased, businesses did not earn profits due to increased input costs, high bank loan rates, and rising prices of electricity, oil and packaging. Shrimp businesses also had to accept a fall in profits.

Seafood experts said that the biggest difficulty facing businesses is a serious shortage of materials to process, which has caused many factories to operate at 40-50 percent of their capacity. There is also a lack of products such as cuttle-fish, octopus, tuna and codfish. Oil price hikes have pushed expenses for a fishing trip up by 20 percent. Some traders also sold products to Chinese fishing ships.

Le Chi Binh, vice chairman of the An Giang Aquaculture and Seafood Processing Association said, in fact, local people still take an interest in fisheries but they are worried about unstable prices and lack of capital for investment.

Tra fish turnover will be higher in the second quarter of this year because factories are developing. At present, price of unprocessed tra fish is high, from VND25,000-28,000 per kilogram, and aqua farmers can earn a profit of VND3,000-4,000 per kilo.

Active measures

Despite the difficulties, VASEP hopes that seafood exports will reach their target of US$5.3 billion in 2011. In addition to traditional markets like the US, Japan and the EU, Vietnam should expand to potential markets like the Republic of Korea and China.

VASEP Chairman, Tran Thien Hai, said the most important thing to do is accelerate production and exports to stabilise social welfare. VASEP has asked businesses to develop farming areas to produce more material in the future, but businesses must follow regulations for using chemicals in raising and processing the seafood.

VASEP also urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish a fund to promote and support exports of Vietnam tra fish and strengthen plans to produce stable materials.

The Mekong Delta provinces have implemented many measures to prevent shrimp diseases and provide technical assistance to farmers to develop breeding areas. Local authorities directed relevant agencies to follow the weather closely to help the farmers and promote exploitation to increase the supply of materials and accelerate processing for exports in the future.

Source: VOV news

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