The year 2020 passed, leaving damages for many major economies in the world. Vietnam was affected less by the pandemic thanks to extraordinary effort but all aspects like socio-economic, education, national security and defense have undergone many months of upsetting. Vietnam’s seafood industry is also in that chain of continuous effect. Continuous difficulties from major export markets, natural disasters cause both farmers and enterprises to worry about keeping “survival”. At the end of the year, the total exported seafood of Vietnam gained US$ 8.4 billion, decreasing by 1.9% over 2019. This result shows the tireless effort of seafood enterprises in the crisis.

Looking back to the year 2020, the Fisheries Trade News hereby reviews the five most outstanding events in last year
  1. A staggering year of Vietnam’s seafood due to Covid-19

Export activities of Vietnam’s seafood fell into the worst “crisis” in the first quarter of 2020, at the outbreak of corona pandemic. The percentage of orders that were delivered under signed contracts is only 30-50%. Since April, when the pandemic spread widely in the EU, many countries had to blockade, closed frontiers, and isolated society, then many customers delayed or canceled the orders. As a result, ships were delayed or canceled due to cutting down, change of itinerary or port of shipowner; import, customs clearance at seaports were congested leading to lack of container. Up to the 4th quarter of 2020, export activities to major markets stabilize gradually. In a whole year, seafood export enterprises struggled with minimizing damage and maintaining survival, sharing difficulties with their co-operators.

  1. Pangasius export contradict expectation

At the end of 2019, VASEP gave an optimistic forecast that the exports of Vietnamese pangasius to China, the US, and ASEAN in 2020 may achieve positive two-digit growth. However, right at the beginning of the year, the exports to these markets was interrupted since seafood processing factories of China – Hong Kong took a long Tet holiday due to  Covid-19. This is the largest export market of Vietnamese pangasius enterprises. In the 2nd quarter of 2020, Chinese factories came back to their production, import-export activities ran normally when Beijing did not record any cases of Covid-19 infection for 56 consecutive days but less than one month later, it was slowed down and congested again since Chinese port stopped working with a reason that corona virus may be spread to the community from imported seafood. In 2020, the total value of exported pangasius to China – Hong Kong (the largest export market) reached US$ 514.8 million, decreasing by 22.3% compared to last year. This value in the other major markets decreased, too: the US decreased by 14.4%, ASEAN decreased by 31.3%, the EU decreased by 31.1% in comparison with the year 2019.

  1. FTAs push seafood to the markets

Until now, Vietnam has signed 15 FTAs, among them are EVFTA and RCEP which were signed in 2020. UKVFTA is the latest one which was signed on December 29th, 2020.

On August 1st, 2020, EVFTA took effect. 220 seafood products have the base tax rate of 0 – 22%, in which, high tax from 6 – 22% will be changed into 0% from this date. Among them, some processing products with a high base tax (20%) will be reduced to 0%. By the end of 2020, the EU is the fourth-largest seafood export of Vietnam (comes after the US, Japan, China – Hong Kong). Nearly half a year after this agreement effects in the context of Covid-19 still impacts heavily on most of the European economies, the exports of some seafood products to the EU increased slightly: shrimp increased by 6.1%, tuna increased by 2,4%.

In 2020, seafood exports to the UK was very optimistic. The UK’s market is the brightest spot in the picture of Vietnamese pangasius export. By the end of 2020, the total value of seafood exports to this market reached US$ 344.6 million, increasing by 22.8%. In which, shrimp exports to the UK increased by 20.1% and pangasius exports to this market increased by 30.1% compared to 2019. If the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled better in the coming time, seafood exports to the EU and the UK will be improved gradually.

  1. Heavy flood in the central region effect negatively seafood processing factories.

The year 2020 is a memorable year with many natural disasters and unusual pandemics. In which, there were 5 storms and tropical depressions that occurred continuously in the East sea causing heavy rain for many days in the central provinces from September to November. High-level flood causes flooding in a large area, many residential areas were divided, traffic was isolated, all activities related to the fishing of fishermen and processing of seafood factories in the central region had to stop, thousands of hectares of aquaculture lost completely.

Dealing with this situation, on October 16th, 2020, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) sent an Open Letter to organizations, enterprises, and individuals appealing to support central people who were facing difficulties due to flood.

This is a practical action of the VASEP community with their heart towards the central region. Right after the appeal, VASEP got contributions from members, organizations, individuals, staffs of seafood enterprises. Besides, VASEP also sent greetings and encouragement to their members who had interruptions in their production due to floods and storms.

  1. Shrimp exports turns “challenge” into “opportunity”

In 2020, the total value of Vietnam’s seafood exports reached US$ 8.41 billion, decreasing by 1.9%. This is a great effort of seafood enterprises this year. In particular, the value of shrimp exports achieved US$ 3.73 billion, accounting for 44.3% of the total export value of this industry, increasing by 11% compared to 2019.

In earlier last year, the outbreak of corona virus pandemic impacted heavily on global production and trade of shrimp, excess of supply and low price.

But Vietnam’s shrimp industry found an opportunity in the risks when some large suppliers of shrimp in the world like Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Thailand, etc damaged seriously because of the pandemic, domestic production was delayed. Until now, the shrimp enterprises are still struggling with the pandemic so Vietnamese shrimp has better competitiveness.


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