9 Dec 2015
Vietnam's Fish Exports to China Soar, While Tumbling in the West
More flexible standards sees China as the recipient of the fish stocks the West rejects…
Exports to China from Vietnam's fishing sector are set to soar by 19% this year. At the same time, its exports to the US, the EU and Japan have tumbled by between 15% and a massive 60%.
The huge drop in sales to the more mature markets has come about as many of Vietnam's fish-product exports have been deemed substandard by the relevant countries' importers and consumers. In China, however, no similar squeamishness has been reported, with importers happy to take up the slack left by the disinterested western markets.
In specific terms, Vietnamese catfish exports to China leapt by more than 50% year-on-year, up until the period ending October 2015. Over the first 10 months of this year, seafood exports from Vietnam to China were valued at in excess of US$500 million. This made China the third biggest export market for Vietnamese fishing products after the US and Japan, both of which have been declining notably.
According to industry sources, only around 10% of the exports to China was used in local restaurants or by other food service providers. The exact use of the remainder is unclear, although there is some suggestion that some of it may have been re-exported.
Exact figures relating to the sector are notoriously hard to come by, with many of Vietnam's seafood exports to China conducted through unofficial channels, inevitably resulting in lower standards being applied. It is thought that many of these clandestinely imported items maybe reprocessed and repackaged by Chinese companies and then re-exported under their own brand.
Historically, a number of Vietnamese firms, whose fish products have been excluded by the strict regimes of Japan, the US and the EU – largely because of excess antibiotic and chemical residues – have switched to shipping to China, where the relevant regulations have been less rigorously enforced.
Nguyen Quoc Uy, Ho Chi Minh City Office