AN GIANG, May 8, 2020, VNA. Vietnam’s tra fish exports fell 29.3 percent year on year to 334 million USD in the first three months of this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry – a big foreign currency earner – may fully recover in the third quarter, according to the Directorate of Fisheries, Vietnam News Agency reported.
At a meeting in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on May 7, the Vietnam Pangasius (Tra Fish) Association reported that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected tra fish production, processing and exports since the beginning of the year, leading to a year-on-year decline of 5.7 percent in the new farming area to 777ha, 20.8 percent in the harvested area to 602ha, and 23.6 percent in output to nearly 180,000 tonnes.
Besides, the pandemic has been developing complicatedly in countries such as China, the US, the Republic of Korea and some European nations, which are major importers of Vietnamese tra fish.
As a result, aquatic exports to key markets in Q1 plummeted compared to the same period last year with shipments to China down 48 percent, the EU 47.3 percent, and the US 19.8 percent.
The association said the sudden decrease has caused difficulties for exporters with a knok-on effect on the production of raw materials as well as support businesses like aquaculture medicine and feed producers.
Drought and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta, the largest agricultural hub in Vietnam, have also added a further complication to the tra fish industry.
However, the association noted, interruptions to supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic are just temporary, and trading activities are likely to resume once it is under control.
Tran Dinh Luan, General Director of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), said China has managed to control the outbreak and begun to recover trading activities, while the inventory in some other large importers currently stands at a low level.
He forecast the tra fish industry will fully recover in Q3, and exports to China may revive right at the end of this month. Therefore, it is necessary to work out plans to regulate production to prevent a shortage of input materials for processing and export.
At the meeting, MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said Vietnam has developed a tra fish industry raking in billions of USD from exports every year with products shipped to nearly 120 countries. However, the export volume and value have yet to match the potential.
The pangasius association, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the MARD and Mekong Delta localities will work to tackle pandemic-caused difficulties facing exporters and promote export to the markets that have partly contained the COVID-19. They will also coordinate to boost shipments to potential markets like Russia and Brazil, along with sales in the domestic market to avoid overdependence on exports, he added.