Looking for new directions for tra fish export (04-01-2018)

According to Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), by the end of November 2017, export of tra fish reached US $ 1.62 billion, up 5.3 per cent over the same period last year. However, it is worth mentioning that the export to large and important market as the US and EU sharply reduced, contrary to the strong growth in other markets such as China.
Looking for new directions for tra fish export

Sharp decrease in big markets

According to preliminary statistics of the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, by the end of November 2017, export value of tra fish to the US market reached US $ 319.7 million, down 9.7 per cent over the same period last year. In the EU market, the turnover reached US $ 180.107 million, accounting for 11.4 per cent, down 22.1 per cent over the same period of 2016. Especially in the Spanish market, in the first 10 months of 2017, exports of tra fish decreased by more than 70 per cent and it was expected to decrease by 60 to 75 per cent compared to 2016.

The cause of sharp decline in the US and EU markets were due to technical barriers and trade. As in the US market, the anti-dumping tariffs of the administrative review sessions were high, making the number of exporters to the market went down. According to statistics, there were more than 60 enterprises registered to export tra fish to the US market, but in fact only about 10 enterprises exported tra fish products to this market, with a small volume. In addition, export businesses have been facing technical barriers since August 2nd 2017, when all shipments of all catfish (including tra fish) imported into the US market must be under official inspection after the Farm Bill, causing more costly spending and time-consuming to the export business in order to export products to this market.

As for the EU market, according to VASEP, the sharp decline in exports came from the overwhelming competition of Vietnamese tra fish products from the white-meat fish products in the region. Especially in Spanish market, the sharp decline of consuming for Vietnamese tra fish product was due to media crisis from the beginning of 2017 which informed negative and misinformative information about Vietnamese tra fish. Facing difficulties and challenges in those markets, Vietnamese tra fish exporters have shifted their direction to other new and marginal markets like China. At the same time, demand for tra fish in China market increased sharply with many segments. In the first 11 months of 2017, the export of tra fish to China reached US $ 373.35 million, accounting for 22.9 per cent, up nearly 40 per cent over the same period of 2016. In 2017, it was the first time that China has surpassed the US to be the largest importer of tra fish from Viet Nam.

Efforts to diversify the market

The increase of tra fish export to Chinese market was very important in the context of difficult situation that Vietnamese tra fish had to undergo during 2017, while export of tra fish from Viet Nam met challenges in most important markets like the US and EU. However, as noted by many enterprises as well as VASEP warning, like other agro – products being exported to China in last years, exporting tra fish to China market contained lots of risks due to lack of customs stability, quarantine, quality requirements and controls. In long – term, if our exporters bring into focus too much on Chinese market, we could lose other important markets. Although the growth rate got in 2017 was impressive, many experts could not predict the picture in 2018. Therefore, in order to stabilize the export of tra fish in 2018, one of the necessary requirements is that enterprises should diversify the market.

In fact, businesses have moved flexibly to some markets such as Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia in 2017, and it brought some positive result. In the first 11 months of 2017, export value of tra fish to three markets reached US $ 93.8 million; US $ 93.2 million and US $ 50.2 million, respectively, brought an increase of 69.2 per cent, 21.9 per cent and 7.1 per cent over the same period last year. However, according to VASEP, tra fish export enterprises need to do their best to regain growth rate in large and traditional markets as the US and EU because they are important markets, which have strict requirements on quality and also great effect to other import markets. Once Vietnamese tra fish industry can meet requirements of these markets it would have motivation in restructuring and improving quality as well as improving its product’s value in the global market.  

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