The sharp decrease in exports, especially to China, can be attributed to the long Lunar New Year holiday and the impact of acute respiratory infections caused by the new strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The biggest impact on the country’s fruit and vegetable exports has come from the decline in business to China, with the northern neighbour making up 64.8 per cent of total export value last year.
January saw markets report sharp declines in terms of the nation’s fruit and vegetable products being sold to places such as the Netherlands and China.
According to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the proportion of fruit and vegetable exports to the Chinese market fell from 72.6 per cent in January, 2019, to 61.8 per cent in January this year.
Although the export of goods, especially fruit products, to the Chinese market through northern border gates around Tet is often hectic, this year saw domestic fruit exports suffer from the impact of the COVID-19, with border gates being temporarily closed.
As a means of dealing with the situation, the Ministry of Industry and Trade made recommendations that local fruit and vegetable exporters be proactive in adjusting their production activities, whilst suggesting that cultivation areas for fruit, especially dragon fruit, should be properly zoned.
In addition, in order to promote the export of agricultural products to other markets, especially those with high standards, local fruits should be required to meet stringent regulations and standards set by importers such as the United States, the EU, Japan, and Australia.
Elsewhere, the export of Vietnamese fruit and vegetable items to markets such as Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, and Russia experienced a sharp increase from January.
Although exports of fruit and vegetables to markets such as the Republic of Korea, the US, and Japan fell during January, the proportion of exports to these markets enjoyed an increase on-year, stated the Import and Export Department.
Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, emphasised the need to boost fruit and vegetable exports to new markets as a way of avoiding becoming reliant on China, noting that the EU represents a potential market following the recent approval of the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).