January, 10 2013 10:50:54

Seafood and rice exporters face difficult first quarter

HA NOI (VNS) — Seafood and rice exporters are reporting that they have received few new export contracts so far this year, with only a few major players landing contracts for the first quarter and all voicing concerns about the state of the global market.

Lam Ngoc Hai, the deputy director of the Saigon-Mekong Fisheries Co in the southern province of Tra Vinh, a company which already saw a 5-per-cent decline in tra fish exports last year, said that his company has been unable to secure a major contract for the first few months of the year.

Viet Nam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that the association was unable to make any forecasts about this year's demand due to too many uncertain variables.

But he affirmed that seafood exporters would find it very difficult to meet their target of US$6.7 billion in exports this year.

According the association, only 20 per cent out of about 70 tra exporters were operating well, and the association was concerned there would be a significant inventory of tra accumulating in the first quarter – a state of affairs that could result in seafood export volumes this year declining by at least 15-20 per cent.

Rice exporters have also landed only a few export contracts to China, with no orders yet from other major importers such as the Phillippinnes, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) vice chairman Pham Van Bay warned that rice exporters could face difficulties if demand remains low when the winter-spring crop is harvested between January and March. The Government might then have to buy rice for stockpiling in order to protect farmers.

Vietnamese rice was expected to continue to face stiff competition from cheaper products from India, Myanmar and Pakistan, Bay said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development forecast that agricultural exports would earn $28.5 billion in 2013, up from a record $27.5 billion last year. — VNS

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