(vasep.com.vn) According to statistics from Vietnam Customs, in the first half of March 2021, seafood exports of the whole country reached 326.3 million USD, therefore accumulated seafood exports from the beginning of the year to mid-March 2021 reached 1,327 billion USD. Seafood exports in March is estimated to reach about 640 million USD, up 1.6% over the same period, bringing total seafood export turnover from Vietnam in the first quarter of 2021 to US$1.64 billion, up by 3% over the same period in 2020.
In the first two months of the year, Vietnam's seafood export activities were significantly affected by rising production costs and shortage of ships, lack of containers and skyrocketing freight charges, especially shipping to the US and EU. Meanwhile, the logistic problems created congestion at China's main importing ports, along with the tight control of the corona virus in imported seafood into this market, making the export of seafood from Vietnam more difficult. The situation in the Chinese market tended to improve from mid-March, so seafood exports in March had better results.
After increasing by 16% in January, shrimp exports decreased by 19% in February, then in March recovered with an increase of about 10% to reach about 270 million USD. By the end of quarter I/2021, Vietnam shrimp exports was estimated at 646 USD million, up by nearly 3% over the same period in 2020. Shrimp exports to the US, EU, China and some other markets all decreased over the same period, except for some CPTPP member countries that tend to increase shrimp imports as well as other seafood products of Vietnam.
Similar to shrimp, Vietnam pangasius exports to the US and some CPTPP markets such as Mexico, Australia, and Canada increased, but to China decreased sharply, and to the EU decreased slightly in the first 2 months of the year. With the improvement of logistics in China, the export of pangasius as well as shrimp to China tended to be more positive since March. Therefore, after decreasing by 5.5% in the first 2 months of the year, pangasius export in March increased by 11% to 137 million USD. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, pangasius exports reached $336 million, a slight increase of 0.6% over the same period in 2020.
Among marine products, cephalopod and other products processed from marine fish (surimi, canned fish, dried fish ...) have positive export signals. In particular, the exports of cephalopod to the European market is recovering well, partly thanks to tariff preferences from EVFTA, while exports to South Korea have decreased slightly. Cephalopod exports in the first 2 months increased slightly by nearly 2% and continued to increase by 8% in March to reach 45 million USD, bringing the first 3 months' export result to 112 million USD.
However, tuna exports in the first 2 months decreased by 10% and saw drops in most markets, except for Italy and Canada, which increased strongly by 129% and 36% respectively compared to the same period in 2020. Exports in March increased by 5%, reaching 55 million USD, bringing the result in the first 3 months of the year to 140 million USD, down by 11% compared to the first quarter of 2020.
The Covid epidemic is still serious in many traditional markets of Vietnam, reducing the demand for some key seafood products but at the same time creating opportunities for product lines with long shelf life, suitable prices for economic downturn in countries. Therefore, the export of seafood products in the dried forms, canned, fish cakes, surimi segments tends to increase, contributing to a bright and optimistic picture of seafood exports in the first quarter and the following quarters.
It is forecasted that seafood exports to China in April and the upcoming months will recover stronger, as the country gradually resolves trade congestion at seaports and loosens covid control measures on imported products, especially frozen seafood. Shrimp and pangasius exports to China will grow again. The US market will still have a positive impact on Vietnam's seafood export results in the upcoming months, maintaining positive growth as in 2020 and the first months of the year. Shrimp exports to this market may not maintain a strong growth as last year, but pangasius exports are showing a better trend. However, the problem of high freight charges to Europe and America will continue to dominate seafood exports to these markets. Therefore, exports to the EU in general will not be able to strongly recover in the next month.
According to current market situation, Vietnam's seafood exports in April are forecasted to increase by about 10% to reach $680 million. As the result, total seafood exports in the first four months of 2021 is estimated to reach $2.32 billion, up by nearly 4% compared with the same period in 2020.