|Workers process tra fish at a factory in Mekong Delta. Southeast Asia has increasing demand for Vietnamese pangasius. — Photo courtesy of congthuong.vn
Thailand was the largest market, with shipments rising by 9.2 per cent year-on-year to $32.5 million.
Thailand’s fisheries imports have risen sharply this year, especially of fish with white meat like tra.
The Philippines has emerged as one of the biggest importers, with purchases rising steadily for months, VASEP said. Tra exports to this market were worth $19 million, a 25 per cent increase from the same period last year.
Vietnam is the only supplier of white fish to the Philippines.
Last year, Vietnam organised for the first time a rice and pangasius – as tra is also known -- promotion festival in the Philippines, helping popularise its pangasius.
VASEP said exports of tra to Malaysia are growing at the fastest rate in Southeast Asia.
In the first five months, pangasius exports to Malaysia were worth $18.8 million, an increase of 47.3 per cent from the same period last year, it said, explaining that the market has huge potential.
Malaysia also imports white meat fish from China, the US, the UK, France, and others, but Vietnam is the largest supplier.
According to many businesses, Southeast Asia is a market that needs to be paid focus on besides traditional markets such as the US, the EU, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
The country’s overall tra exports in the first five months were worth $690 million, slightly less than in the same period last year, with China, the US and EU accounting for 53 per cent, VASEP said.
Exports to the US are down due to anti-dumping duties and other trade barriers while China’s changing import policies have affected shipments to that country.
However, exports to the EU increased for the first time in a long time, rising by 31.5 per cent to $105.2 million.
Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP general secretary, attributed the increase to businesses’ efforts to ensure quality and promote their products.
According to the association, the tra export target for this year is $2.4 billion, a 12 per cent increase from last year.
Exports to Japan, the US and China are showing signals of recovery, while exports to the EU are expected to keep increasing thanks to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.
In the event, it would not be difficult to achieve the export target this year, he said.