ASEAN has been the largest trading partner of Vietnam and one of its Top 10 seafood export markets over the last 20 years, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) told the VASEP Member Conference on June 12 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Total export-import revenue from ASEAN in Vietnam’s seafood sector increased nine-fold during the 23 years the country has been a member of the bloc. ASEAN expects to see $1 billion in seafood exports in the near future.
Growth in Vietnam’s seafood exports to ASEAN has been unstable over the course of the 23 years, especially in the last decade, according to VASEP. The country’s seafood exports were valued $66 million in 1998 and then $612 million in 2017.
As at 2017, seafood products were being exported to nine countries in ASEAN. Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore are three largest importers of Vietnamese seafood, accounting for somewhere between 82 and 96 per cent of total seafood export revenue to ASEAN.
Thailand is the largest importer, with Vietnamese seafood exports to the country increasing from $27 million, or 41 per cent of the total, in 1998 to $248 million in 2017, an increase of 816 per cent.
The Philippines is Vietnam’s second-largest seafood export market. Exports began in 1999 and export revenue has increased from $63,000 to $132 million during the 19 years since.
Singapore is now the third-largest seafood export market in the block, having been the largest in volume and second-largest in value in the 1998-2016 period. Thailand took over from Singapore as the largest seafood importer in the bloc in the 2011-2017 period
According to VASEP, ocean-caught products account for most of Vietnam’s seafood exports to ASEAN, including fish and squid. Ocean fish exported to ASEAN has continually increased, from $8 million to $289 million in the 1998-2017 period. Fresh or frozen ocean fish is a key export to the bloc.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was established on December 31, 2015 and will help Vietnam’s seafood sector take a new direction, especially in exports. According to VASEP, ASEAN is a market of great potential that exporters must consider expanding into to avoid any over-reliance on other key markets.