Tuna exports predicted to rebound as billion-USD earner

Vietnam’s tuna exports showed a gradual recovery in the last quarter of 2023 and have strongly grown again in the first months of this year, promising a surge throughout 2024 and a return as a commodity with billion-USD export value, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Amidst the overall decline in aquatic exports, tuna exports also saw a drop of 17% to 845 million USD in 2023. However, from the last few months of 2023, they have begun to recover. In January of this year, the tuna export turnover reached over 79 million USD, surging by 58% year-on-year.

Nguyen Ha, VASEP tuna market expert, said he believes that this is a positive sign for tuna exports in 2024.

The growth in January helps lift the export turnover of this product to 131 million USD in the first two months of 2024, up 21% over the same period last year.

The result was attributed to efforts by businesses to expand export markets.

According to VASEP, Vietnamese exporters shipped tuna products to more than 80 markets worldwide. Enterprises have mitigated risks by diversifying their export destinations to compensate for the decline in major markets.

For instance, in February, while tuna exports to key markets such as the US and the European Union (EU) saw a sharp drop, the shipments to many smaller markets recorded strong growth such as Canada (up 146%), and Chile (up 116%).

To overcome difficulties and challenges and to bring tuna back to the list of billion-USD exports, businesses need to fully tap free trade agreements (FTAs) Vietnam signed with the EU and the UK, insiders said.

The UK is seen as a promising market for Vietnam’s tuna, however the export value of this product to the European nation remains modest, accounting for only 1% of the UK’s tuna import value.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import and Export Department said that Vietnamese tuna has gained advantages in the UK market thanks to tariff preferences provided by the Vietnam-UK FTA (UKVFTA). Tuna exports to the market hit 5.5 million USD in the first nine months of 2023, up 48% year-on-year.

The department rolled out various scenarios for exploiting the UK market for Vietnamese tuna during 2022 – 2025. It forecasts that the tuna export turnover to the market will gradually recover and averagely expand by 8 - 9% per year in the period.