|Ocena tuna being processed at Tam Quan seaport in Hoai Nhon District, central coastal province of Binh Dinh. — VNA/VNS Photo Viet Y
HCM CITY (VNS) — Tuna exports are expected to increase by 8 per cent this year to US$507 million, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (Vasep).
Vasep deputy chairman Nguyen Hoai Nam said tuna exports fetched nearly $470 million last year, with fresh and frozen fish accounting for 54 per cent.
The exports went to 105 markets, with the US being the largest buyers, followed by the EU, ASEAN, and Japan, he said.
Tuna exports to the US were worth an estimated $190 million, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 per cent, making Viet Nam one of the biggest exporters to that market.
Exports to ASEAN member countries increased by 24 per cent last year, but exports to the EU and Japan were down by nearly 20 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
In the case of Japan, while fresh and frozen tuna shipments were down, export of processed tuna enjoyed good growth.
The depreciation of the yen affected exports to Japan, though volumes recovered at the end of the year, Vasep said. But tuna export revenues have been dropping relentlessly in the past four years, it said.
This was due to falling global prices and increasing competition from the likes of Indonesia, the Philippines and Ecuador.
Global demand for the fish recovered in the third quarter of last year, and is expected to increase further this year, Nam said.
With the free trade agreements the country has signed, like with the Eurasian Economic Union and South Korea, Vietnamese tuna would attract lower import tariffs in those markets compared to its competitors, he said.
An ongoing trial project for tuna fishing, buying, processing, and consumption is expected to help improve quality and competitiveness, he said.
Like in 2014 tuna processors and exporters were unable to source enough fish locally, forcing them to resort to imports.
They spent nearly $216.4 million to import tuna, mainly fresh and frozen, for export processing, an increase of 14 per cent over 2014, the association said, adding the figure is expected to be higher this year. — VNS