Tuna exports to EU rise after FTA comes into being

Monday, 2020-12-14 21:53:20
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Vietnamese tuna exports to the EU up 0.5% year-on-year to US$126 million during January-November. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – Vietnamese tuna appears ideally placed to take advantage of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), with shipments rising 0.5% year-on-year to US$126 million during January-November despite COVID-19.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), tuna exports to Italy, Germany, and Spain rose 60%, 20%, and 41%, respectively.

Exports to the EU are expected to increase handily in December as importers prepare for tuna batches for 2021 while taking advantage of tariff incentives under the FTA.

Under the agreement, which came into effect on August 1, the EU has eliminated tariffs on fresh and frozen Vietnamese tuna, with 11,500 tonnes of canned tuna and 500 tonnes of canned fish balls benefiting from the exemption annually.

The bloc also removes tariffs on frozen tenderloin and fillets under a three-year roadmap, and on steamed tenderloin and fillets under a seven-year roadmap.

With the tax breaks from the EVFTA, Vietnamese tuna products are able to gain a competitive edge over rivals from other exporters like Thailand and China.

However, VASEP Vice President Nguyen Thi Thu Sac said that local firms must obey the strict rules of the EU market, such as in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, food safety, and food origin traceability.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs said nearly US$600 million was earned from tuna exports in the eleven-month period. The US continued to be the largest importer, outlaying over US$260 million, followed by the EU with more than US$126 million.

Several markets posted a fall in tuna consumption, such as Egypt and the Middle East, since governments banned gatherings and ordered restaurants closed as part of COVID-19 prevention measures.

According to Nguyen Duy Hung, First Secretary and head of the trade office under the Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt, demand for tuna has surged in Egypt and the Middle East in recent years. Thailand is currently the largest tuna provider to Egypt. Though Vietnam is the second-largest exporter, it has a market share of just 5.6%.

Vietnam, he believes, holds substantial potential in shipping tuna to the north African nation because COVID-19 has driven many importing countries to diversify suppliers to avoid any dependence on a single source.