While Vietnam’s largest export is textiles, seafood is often overlooked as another crucial product to Vietnam’s economic well-being. In June 2009, Vietnam and Japan signed the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which effectively reduced and eliminated tariffs on a number of Vietnamese goods, one of which was dried seafood. In the past, high prices had deterred other Southeast Asian countries from buying Vietnamese seafood, but the tariff cuts, coupled with overall increased demands, have led to a boom in Vietnamese seafood exports.
Since the agreement, Japan has become one of Vietnam’s largest buyers of seafood exports, reaching nearly $400 million in 2009. In January and February of 2010 alone, Vietnam has exported $89.7 million in seafood to Japan, an 11.6 percent year-to-year increase. However, Japan isn’t the only country demanding Vietnamese seafood.
Today, Vietnam’s seafood products are exported to over 50 countries worldwide. In a majority of these markets, the export growth rate has seen a steady 2-3 digit (not percent!) growth rate year after year. The largest overall market for Vietnam’s seafood exports is the European Union, followed by Japan and the United States. In these markets, the most popular products desired have been catfish and frozen shrimp. Southeast Asian countries also comprise a significant amount of exports, although they prefer Vietnam’s dried seafood products, such as dried anchovies.
The goal for 2010 is $4.5 billion in total seafood exports, says the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers. Hopes are that the incursion into new markets in Eastern Europe and North Africa will help increase already booming seafood industry. With exports up 14.5 percent already, it's no surprise that Vietnam’s seafood exporters are confident of reaching their goal.