In contrast to exports, the country spent US$5.29 billion importing agricultural materials. Consequently, the first two months’ trade surplus stood at US$819.3 million.
In the reviewed period, agroforestry and seafood products reported vigorous export growth, with agricultural products growing by 27.8% to US$3.3 billion, seafood by29.5% to nearly US$1.2 billion, and forestry products by 28.5% to US$1.43 billion, and by 101% for other products.
Since early this year, exports of many agricultural products such as rice, coffee, tea, cashew nut, fruit and vegetables, and cassava and cassava products have shown strong indicators of an upward trend in both volume and value. Cashew nuts achieved the highest export growth among agricultural products at 54,000 tons with a value of US$555 million (up over 73% in volume and nearly 95% in value).
Vietnam face a number of difficulties last year, particularly the European Commission (EC)’s issuance of a "yellow card" warning for the country’s failure to demonstrate sufficient progress in its fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide.
Despite these hurdles, seafood exports still hit US$8.317 billion, exemplifying the seafood sector’s strong growth. With the subsequent impressive performance of 2017, businesses gave a boost to seafood exports from early this year as shown by the biggest ever consignment of seafood products worth more than US$590 million shipped via Cai Lai Port.
The batch included a 20-ton container of frozen shrimp valued at more than US$290,000 for transport to Canada, a 20-ton container of sea fish worth over US$216,000 to the US, and a 22-ton container of fillet catfish valued at more than US$84,000 to the EU.
Although the EU was the largest importer of Vietnamese seafood soaring by 32.9% over two months, China – the second biggest consumer – posted the greatest growth at 102.9%, says the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Based on the results of 2017 and over the first two months of this year, Nguyen Ngoc Oai, acting general director of the Directorate of Fisheries, says the US$9 billion seafood export target set for this year is a realistic aim.
This year, the seafood sector will continue to fully exploit profitable marine resources such as shrimp and tra fish by prioritizing hi-tech seafood farming models, speeding up intensive processing, and increasing added value products.
The major focus will be on dealing with the problem of removing market and trade barriers and having the EU’s yellow card rescinded.