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Prospects for Vietnamese tuna exports to EU

(11/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)

In 2018, tuna prices were generally softer than in 2017, but this did not have any impact on demand in the EU market. The amount of inventories in the EU market in the past year was high and the demand for ordinary canned tuna products was at saturation levels, thus affecting the import trend in this market. In the first 11 months of 2018, the EU's tuna imports decreased by 5% to 923 thousand tonnes compared to the same period in 2017. However, in terms of export value, EU's tuna imports still climbed by 11% compared to 2017, reaching more than US$5 billion.

Spain, Italy, France and the UK were the largest tuna importers in the EU. In particular, Spain's tuna imports accounted for 34% of total EU tuna imports; followed by Italy at 17%, France at 11% and Britain at 10%. Compared to 2017, imports of Spanish and Italian tuna tended to go up, whereas imports to France and Britain went down. With an impressive growth rate, Spain has become the largest tuna import market of Vietnam in the EU.

With the main export product being frozen tuna (HS code 0304), Vietnam is currently the second largest supplier to EU, after Korea. In 2018, exports of this product line to the EU increased 30% compared to 2017. The Netherlands, Italy and Belgium are the 3 largest importers of Vietnamese frozen tuna (HS code 0304) in the EU market.

Exports of frozen tuna loins increased, whereas Vietnamese canned tuna to EU decreased. In addition, other processed tuna products (tuna in oil, frozen tuna flake ...) increased. Specifically, compared to 2017, the export revenue of canned tuna decreased by 14%, while other processed tuna increased by 77%. Vietnam is currently the14th largest processed and canned tuna suppliers to EU.

In 2018, due to the high price of tuna in Malta and the catch in this area fell, causing the supply to be limited. EU countries, therefore, tend to find alternative tuna suppliers from Asian countries like China or Vietnam.

It is expected that this trend will continue in the first months of 2019 due to low capture fisheries production in some EU countries. In addition, the EU still applies duty free quotas for 25,000 tons of pre-cooked tuna fillet/ loins from third countries - those without trade agreements with the EU such as Thailand, Vietnam and China. Therefore, the EU still increase tuna imports from Vietnam, especially in the context of the two sides preparing to officially sign the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement.

VIFEP (Vasep)

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