Improve competitiveness and sustainable development of the seafood industry


Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

How do you evaluate this sign of improvement in the Fisheries industry?

The year 2023 has passed with seafood export results reaching 9 billion USD, 18% lower than 2022. High inflation, reduced demand, large inventories, reduced export prices and other difficulties and uncertainties in domestic production and business, such as: increased input costs for the entire supply chain, IUU “yellow card” affecting seafood exports to the EU… are the basic causes affecting Vietnamese seafood exports in the past year.

However, starting from January 2024, seafood exports have shown more positive signs, with an increase of 64% over the same period in 2023, reaching 750 million USD. In particular, the main products all had a significant breakthrough compared to the same period last year. Regarding markets, the biggest breakthroughs were in China and Hong Kong (China) with an increase of more than 300%, exports to the US increased 63%, to Japan increased 43%, to the EU increased 34%… Although many businesses said the market still has many difficulties, but the high growth numbers of the first month of 2024 have given businesses in the industry hope for a stronger recovery this year.

Seafood businesses still face many difficulties. What do you think about these challenges?

That’s right, there are still problems that seafood export businesses have to face, such as: oversupply, high inventory, low purchasing prices, great competitive pressure… But we can hope for the second half of the year. Selling prices will be better when inventory reduces and market demand recovers.

New challenges such as Red Sea tensions causing increased freight rates, IUU “yellow cards” and anti-subsidy taxes will make it difficult for businesses, but I still believe that with the courage to overcome difficulties, market experience and flexibility, sharp, Vietnamese seafood enterprises will “turn risks into opportunities”, exploit and develop products and markets suitable for the new context after Covid-19, inflation and war. And of course, I still hope that the Vietnamese shrimp industry will not be subject to anti-subsidy taxes, and the seafood industry will have the IUU “yellow card” removed as quickly as possible.

VASEP and the business community commit to making every effort, proactively and dynamically to ensure the supply chain and value chain of the seafood industry with quality, food safety, traceability, towards the goal of improving competitiveness and sustainable development of the seafood industry.

To achieve the above goals, what solutions do the Fisheries industry and businesses need to focus on, ma’am?

Regarding product quality, businesses and the entire seafood industry need to continue to pay attention, invest and maintain the safe quality brand of Vietnamese seafood. Regarding the market, the seafood business community has made decades of efforts from raw materials, finance, production, certification and quality to penetrate the most demanding markets such as Europe, the US, Japan and China. I hope that with the cooperation of the business community and state agencies, we will continue to increase in traditional markets and penetrate more into potential markets such as India and the Middle East, ASEAN….

Regarding raw material sources, the business community and the Executive Committee of the VASEP Association have recently continued to identify and affirm that raw materials are extremely important in global seafood production and business. We not only need a large quantity of goods, but also the quality of raw materials, legal raw materials with the most reasonable price.

With the Government and ministries and branches, VASEP and the business community believe and expect the continued companionship and support of the Government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other ministries in procedural of reforming the administrative procedures and supports to remove difficulties and obstacles for businesses and improve competitiveness for businesses as well as the seafood industry.

Hopefully the companionship and cooperation of the Government and ministries and branches will help Vietnam’s Fisheries industry solve problems in each industry sector such as: quality of shrimp breeds, pangasius breeds, aquaculture feed, improve productivity and reduce production costs…

With the efforts, flexibility and adaptation of seafood enterprises and the support of the Government and ministries and branches, I believe that in 2024, seafood exports will be higher than in 2023.

The EC’s 5th round of inspections against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Vietnam is expected in April 2024. According to you, how do seafood businesses need to coordinate to remove the “yellow card” and promote exports?

As the last step in the value chain of the seafood industry, first of all, businesses are steadfast in their commitment to combat IUU fishing, meaning: not purchasing, processing, or exporting seafood originating from IUU fishing, when there is information available and evidence to determine the origin of exploited materials. To do this, businesses hope that information tools of the Department of Fisheries, fishing ports, and local fisheries branches will exchange, notify, and share information related to fishing vessels violating IUU, and Expand the work of confirming and certifying exploited aquatic materials practically and effectively in localities so that businesses can feel secure in purchasing, processing and exporting products.

Enterprises are also ready to coordinate with specialized agencies to implement and comply with procedures in tracing the origin of exploited aquatic materials, promptly reflecting and sharing the current situation and shortcomings in implementing the process of confirming and certifying exploited aquatic products as well as other problems.

For example, some related issues that VASEP has reported to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and related ministries and branches. In particular, VASEP and seafood enterprises consider changing regulations in the current IUU traceability confirmation process. That is, issue a S/C exploitation certificate immediately to the cargo owner when the cargo owner has completed loading and unloading raw materials from the ship under the supervision of port staff regarding type, volume… at the fishing port.

At the same time, we propose to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to direct the review of current food safety control regulations of Vietnam and Europe. Accordingly, appropriately adjust and amend regulations on food safety control of imported seafood raw materials for processing and export to the EU.

Seafood processing enterprises, especially Vietnamese tuna enterprises, are facing many difficulties in both raw materials and markets, so they are looking forward to the reasonableness and feasibility of regulations to overcome them. Inadequacies of the IUU “yellow card”, while also having room to improve capacity and take advantage of EU market advantages such as the EVFTA agreement to expand market share…


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