Vietnamese Seafood Exports to US: Much Room for Growth  
Cập nhật: 27/05/2016
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The United States, the world’s largest economy, has long been an attractive market to all exporting countries, including Vietnam. With a rich and vast consumer market, the US is the largest seafood market of Vietnam with the turnover of US$1.32 billion in 2015. In which, shrimp, tuna and catfish are favoured goods among Americans.

The export value of seafood from Vietnam to the US market accounts for a very small proportion of the total import and export turnover of this market. So seafood businesses still have many places to improve the balance of exports.
Catfish export facing many challenges
Catfish ranks 6th in frozen seafood products value in the US market. Catfish imported from Vietnam accounts for 92 percent of the total volume of catfish imports and 82 percent of total import value of catfish in the US.

According to Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in 2015, catfish export value is estimated at nearly US$1.6 billion, down 10 percent year on year. The cause of the slump in exports was due to higher anti-dumping duty; decreased seafood import duties and Vietnam’s catfish facing competition with China’s tilapia in the market.

For the anti-dumping duty, the US Department of Commerce has regulated the average 11th anti-dumping duty (POR11) for frozen catfish fillets from Vietnam to the US market of US$0.69 / kg, detrimental to Vietnam. VASEP said the US is planning to apply "Traceability programmes" that is unreasonable and costly for Vietnamese exporters. The US Department of Agriculture also made the official announcement on the deployment of Catfish Monitoring Programme for catfish imported into this country which came into effect in March 2016.

Although faced with competitive pressures and trade barriers, from the second quarter of 2016, the price of catfish is continuously increasing. As of early May, the catfish export value of Vietnam reached more than US$435 million, up 4 percent compared to the same period of 2015. In particular, the US market accounted for 22 percent of export value, although some new laws have come to effect. High export prices create momentum for the increase in exporting value, bringing joy to farmers, manufacturers and exporters in Vietnam after many years of losses.

Tuna: potential export items
According to VASEP, in 2015, tuna exports to the US reached more than US$190 million, up 8.5 percent compared to 2014. The US continues to be the largest tuna export market of Vietnam. By the end of the first quarter of 2016, the total value of exports to the US reached more than US$36 million.

Since early 2016, the output of tuna in three key provinces of Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Binh Dinh has increased by 9 percent over the same period last year, estimated at 1,445 tonnes. Exports of tuna fillets/loins of Vietnam in the early months of this year surged more than 68 percent.
Tuna products consumed in the US are mainly canned tuna and filet/loins from Vietnam. Notably, the export value of tuna fillets / loins of Vietnam nearly doubled. In particular, the export value of these two items is respectively US$ 3.9 million and US$ 8.3 million, up 52 percent and 91 percent over the same period last year.
Significant room for shrimp exports to the US
The US remains the largest market of Vietnam’s shrimp, accounting for 24 percent of total shrimp export value. On the US market, frozen prawn of Vietnam has more competitive price than other competitors such as those from Indonesia or India. Vietnam's shrimp prices are higher by 20 percent compared with the general shrimp products imported from other countries.
Although the proportion of exports to the US market in 2015 was only US$657 million, down 38.3 percent compared to 2014, but by April 15ththis year, shrimp exports to the US reached nearly US$177 million, up by 25 percent as announced by VASEP.

According to VASEP, the cause of the dramatic increase in shrimp exports even in the early months was due to export enterprises still benefiting from anti-dumping duties of the 9th review - POR9 average tax rate 0.91 percent (down from 6.37 percent of POR8) and the initial impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP has more favourable provisions to support taxes for exports from Vietnam to the United States. For the seafood processing items, taxes are removed immediately or in the 3rd year after the deal comes to effect (particularly processed tuna tax elimination in the 10th year).