Provinces in the Mekong Delta speed up export of seafood

Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, enterprises in the Mekong Delta recently have promoted the processing of high-value seafood products to increase their exports to many markets around the world. Seafood exports are showing signs of recovery and opportunities for enterprises to accelerate to finish their plans in the last months of the year.


Workers process pangasius fish for export at a company in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)
Workers process pangasius fish for export at a company in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

The latest statistics of the Department of Industry and Trade of Ca Mau Province showed that shrimp export turnover in October this year reached nearly US$133 million, sending the shrimp exports in the first ten months of this year to over $783 million, an increase of 6 percent over the same period last year. Of which, exports to the European market increased by over 33 percent, Canada increased by 24 percent, and Japan increased by nearly 13 percent. At the same time, enterprises have signed some new contracts with partners in the EU to promote shrimp exports in the last months of the year.

In Bac Lieu Province, by the end of October this year, seafood (mainly shrimps) export turnover exceeded $600 million, equal to 75 percent of the annual plan and up 5 percent over the same period. With this momentum, along with many positive signs in the market demand, Bac Lieu is increasing exports to fulfill its target. However, the difficulty that enterprises are facing today is the shortage of raw material shrimps, making export promotion not as expected. Mr. Huynh Thanh Tan, Director of Ca Mau Seafood Processing and Service Joint Stock Company, said that due to impacts of the pandemic and low prices of raw material shrimps in a long time, farmers had reduced shrimp farming. Moreover, the recent prolonged rains and high tides have caused losses of shrimps, leading to a decrease in production. Currently, enterprises are vying each other to buy raw material shrimps, and the prices of shrimps increase because many households in the Mekong Delta have just raised them again. Therefore, it takes until early-2021 for the supply of shrimps to be available.

For pangasius fish, after dropping drastically to VND17,000-VND19,000 per kilogram, the prices of pangasius fish recently have rebounded. Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh, Director of Chau Thanh Fisheries Production and Service Cooperative in Dong Thap Province, said that factories were buying pangasius fish for export at a price of about VND23,000 per kilogram. With this price level, households who raise fish that meet standards will earn profits. His family had just sold nearly 400 tons of pangasius fish. After deducting expenses, he earned a profit of about VND1,000 per kilogram. Along with price increase, the factory paid cash immediately after buying fish. This also made farmers delighted after previous losses.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, pangasius exports were sluggish at the beginning of the year, from the end of the third quarter of this year, the situation has improved. In the first nine months of this year, pangasius export turnover reached about $1 billion, down 28.6 percent compared to the same period last year. In September this year alone, pangasius exports hit $129 million, down 17.6 percent over the same period, so the losing momentum has been gradually slowed down. It is forecasted that from now to the end of this year, pangasius exports will be smoother because consumption demand increases on the occasion of Christmas and New Year.

Mr. Doan Toi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nam Viet Group in An Giang Province, said that on average, his company exports 320-350 containers of pangasius products monthly. In the last months of the year, exports have increased following the orders of partners around the world. Lately, Nam Viet Group announced a shipment of pangasius produced under high-tech processes to export to the EU, South America, the ASEAN, China, and the Middle East. With this diversity of products, Nam Viet is striving to reach the target with pangasius export turnover from $110 million to $120 million this year.

According to Ms. Truong Thi Le Khanh, Chairman of Vinh Hoan Corporation in Dong Thap Province, along with promoting export at the end of the year, the company is now actively investing in processing a lot of high-quality pangasius products, including crispy fish skin, fish skin salad, fish balls, dried pangasius, fish burger, breaded fish fillet, butterflied pangasius fish, seasoned sliced fish, and thick rice noodle fish soup, to serve the domestic market. It is essential to provide Vietnamese people with a variety of delicious and nutritious dishes prepared from pangasius fish raised in a safe and closed process. This is also a sustainable direction for the pangasius industry in the long term.

For shrimps, according to Mr. Nguyen Viet Trung, Head of Trade Management Division under the Department of Industry and Trade of Ca Mau Province, since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into effect, it has created an obvious advantage for frozen black tiger shrimps and white-leg shrimp products to boosts export because import tariffs on black tiger shrimp are reduced to zero percent as soon as the EVFTA took effect. Meanwhile, import tariffs on frozen white-leg shrimp products will gradually decrease to zero percent after five years. This is an opportunity for enterprises to increase shrimp exports to the EU market. Currently, in Ca Mau Province, there are more than ten enterprises exporting shrimps to the EU. In the first nine months of this year, shrimp exports reached $61 million, an increase of more than 400 percent over the same period last year. It is forecasted that in the coming time, shrimp exporting enterprises in the province will continue to increase sending their products to the EU because this is a market with great potentials.

From now to the end of the year, provinces in the Mekong Delta will focus on supporting enterprises to diversify products, increase deep-processing content, create more added-value products to increase shrimp export turnover. They will support exporting enterprises to grasp and effectively implement free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed. Besides, provinces will also provide farming-technical support for farmers to quickly restore raw material areas, improve the quality of farmed shrimps, and reduce cost prices to increase competitiveness.

Seafood export turnover of the whole country in the first ten months of this year was about $6.87 billion, down 2.74 percent in value over the same period. In the last months of this year, exports have increased, seafood exports are expected to reach about $8.4 billion this year. Although seafood exports are lower than those of $8.6 billion in 2019, amid such difficult conditions, the above result is still a remarkable effort.

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