SUPA Youreverydayfish VietFish
China: Overall Aquatic Trade Value Likely to Hit Record $27 Billion in 2012
February 21, 2013, 11:27 AM
Total aquatic trade value in 2012 is estimated at $27 billion, up four percent over $25.8 billion in 2011.

Total trade volume is expected to fall by two percent. According to MOA statistics, in the first three quarters of 2012, total aquatic trade volume stood at 5.86 million tons, down 2.4 percent, while trade value was $19.4 billion, up six percent over the previous year, respectively. Total aquatic import volume was 3.1 million tons, down 0.9 percent over the previous year; total aquatic trade surplus reached $7.5 billion, up $912 million over the same period from the previous year. Industry sources expect the 2012 total trade value will hit $27 billion. China’s aquatic export trade destinations (with export values over $100 million) rose from 17 countries/regions in 2009 to 25 in 2011 and will likely increase in 2012. Japan continues to be the largest export destination, followed by the United States and South Korea.


Export value is expected to rise to $18.5 billion, up four percent over 2011. This growth is mainly due to increased prices as volume is expected to fall from the previous year. Most Chinese industry insiders believe that a stable recovery of global economies support higher aquatic exports in the near future. 

Re-export of aquatic exports slowed in 2012

The aquatic processing for re-export slowed in 2012. According to MOA, in the first three quarters of 2012, aquatic products (with imported material) for export were 821,800 tons in volume, down 8.7 percent over the previous year. This export value accounted for 28.6 percent (down 2.3 percentage points over the previous year) of total aquatic exports. Weak demand by major overseas markets and the re-location of aquatic processing facilities from China to more competitive countries due to rising input costs in China, lowered domestic processing output in 2012.

Aquatic exports with domestic material increased in value in 2012

According to MOA, total aquatic exports (with domestic material) in the first three quarters of 2012 stood at 1,775,100 tons by volume and $9.4 billion in value, down 1.3 percent and up 12 percent, respectively, over the previous year. Decreased export volume reflects an overall weak rebound in demand for aquatic products by major importing countries.  The increase in export value is attributable to increased production costs.  China’s industry leaders remain confident that total aquatic export value will continue growing though export volume will likely stabilize or decline in 2012.   

Value added product export increases in 2012

Fish fillet (HS Code 0304) continues to be the largest export category with export value at $4.4 billion, accounting for 27 percent of total aquatic exports in 2011. Based on the Global Trade Atlas figures, in the first ten months of 2012, fish fillet exports accounted for 25 percent of total aquatic exports by value. The combined export value of prepared or packaged fish and caviar (1604) and prepared crustaceans and mollusks (HS Code 1605) has grown rapidly in value to $5.4 billion, accounting for 39 percent of total exports.  

Tilapia exports continued to grow

According to the  Global Trade Atlas statistics, in the first ten months of 2012, total tilapia exports reached $913 million, up 8 percent over the $845 million in the previous year, although the export volume increased by 12 percent. In the first ten months of 2012, the United States remained the largest destination for China’s tilapia products, accounting for 48 percent of volume; however, net export volume also climbed to 137,427 tons, 24 percent higher than the previous year on low prices. If prices remain competitive, industry insiders believe the US will continue to be a strong export market for tilapia products.


Import value is estimated at $5.7 billion in 2012, almost unchanged from the previous year; however, total import volume is likely to be 2.6 million tons, down four percent over the previous year. Russia is expected to remain China’s largest supplier of aquatic products in 2012, followed distantly by the United States and JapanQingdao and Dalian continue to be the two largest arrival ports for aquatic products, accounting for 80 percent of the total import volume in first ten months of 2012.  Well-established facilities, including processing factories in Qingdao and Dalian, solidify their status as the largest seafood import hubs in China.  

Global Trade Atlas numbers reflect 1.6 million tons of fish/frozen (HS Code 0303) imports in the first ten months of 2012, a nine percent drop from the previous year. Although the import volume of flatfish was unchanged from the previous year, salmon imports during this time period dropped sharply to 117,000 tons from 192,000 tons in 2011, due to lower processing demands.  In 2011, US salmon imports rose to 83,000 million tons, up 40 percent over the previous year, capturing sales left by a gap in lower Norwegian salmon exports. Import prices for salmon in the first ten months of 2012 averaged $3,487 per ton, up seven percent from the previous year.  

Fishmeal imports are estimated at 1.2 million tons in 2012 

China’s domestic fishmeal production remains low. Growing feed industry demand creates an ever widening supply gap which must be filled by imports. Many contacts believe domestic demand by the feed industry will continue to grow, which will require higher year on year imports. 

Peru remains China’s largest fishmeal supplier at 636,283 tons and accounted for 59 percent of China’s total imports in the first ten months of 2012. During the same period, imports from the United States hit a record 116,776 tons from 104,993 tons in the previous year, most likely due to more diversified products at relatively lower price. At the end of October 2012, the Peruvian government announced a reduction in its fishing quota (from average 2 million tons to 810,000 tons) for resource management, which triggered a price spike of RMB2,000 to 2,500 per ton ($317 to $398 per ton). A smaller, more expensive Peruvian fishmeal production potentially creates opportunity for US fishmeal exports in 2013.   

Fishmeal imports fell to slightly more than one million tons in 2010 from 1.3 million tons in 2009, mainly due to fishmeal prices which spiked at over $1,600 per ton. Imports prices averaged $1,335 per ton in the first ten months of 2012, down nine percent over the previous year. 

Source: (fas.usda)
Kim Thu
Other news
Pangasius exports are still affected by COVID-19 (26/06/2020) Vietnam’s shrimp sector thriving thanks to swift COVID-19 containment (17/06/2020) Export of Vietnamese canned tuna to the US went up (05/06/2020)
Back to top
Specialist on Tuna market
Ms Van Ha
Tel: +84 24 37715055 (ext. 216)
Portal of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)
Head office in HCM city: No 7, Nguyen Quy Canh Road, An Phu Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: (+84 28) 62810430 / Fax: (+84 28) 62810437 - Email: vasephcmcity@vasep.com.vn
Rep. office in Ha Noi: 10 Nguyen Cong Hoan Street, Ngoc Khanh Ward, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi City, Vietnam
Tel: (+84 24) 37715055 / 37715318 - Fax: (+84 24) 37715084 - Email: vasephn@vasep.com.vn
In charge of content: Nguyen Hoai Nam (Mr) – Deputy General Secretary of VASEP
Managing Editor: Phung Thi Kim Thu (Ms.) Tel: (+84 24) 37715055 (ext: 203)
Email: kimthu@vasep.com.vn