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Vietnamese tuna has an impressive return to the Saudi Arabian market

Vietnamese tuna has an impressive return to the Saudi Arabian market

Tuna is being brought ashore. Photo: Thanh Son.

After being allowed exporting into the Saudi Arabian market again, Vietnam's tuna exports to this market increases 57 times in just 9 months. With a great demand for seafood imports from Saudi Arabia, Vietnam is looking forward to having more businesses licensed by Saudi Arabian official agencies to export seafood to this market.

According to Ms. Nguyen Ha, tuna market expert of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), after a number of Vietnamese seafood products were allowed to be exported back to the Saudi Arabian market, tuna exports to this market are experiencing impressive growth.

The first tuna shipments from Vietnam were exported to the Saudi Arabian market in July 2021, after several years of hiatus. Since then, Vietnamese tuna exports to Saudi Arabia have always grown strongly. Impressively, after only 9 months, the value of Vietnam's tuna exports to this market increased from US$ 85,000 in July 2021 to nearly US$ 5 million in March 2022, a pace up of 57 times.

With such strong growth, Saudi Arabia is currently the third largest single tuna export market of Vietnam after the US and Canada. The proportion of tuna export value to this market accounts for 4% of total tuna export value in the first 3 months of 2022.

It assessed a very impressive return of Vietnamese tuna in the Saudi Arabian market.

Previously, on January 30, 2018, the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued Notice No. G/SPS/N/SAU/336 about suspending imports of seafood products, crustaceans and aquatic products exported from Vietnam.

After many efforts of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Vietnamese representative agencies in Saudi Arabia in promoting and mobilizing relevant agencies on the Saudi side, on September 8, 2020, the Ambassy the Saudi Arabia in Vietnam sent a note to the Vietnamese authorities to inform the SFDA's opinion on allowing 12 Vietnamese seafood enterprises to be allowed to re-export some seafood products (tuna, squid, octopus, bivalve molluscs, other marine fish, crabs, etc.) into the Saudi Arabian market.

Tuna is being brought ashore. Photo: Thanh Son.

Saudi Arabia is a landlocked country with no fishing industry. Saudi Arabian prefer fresh, frozen and canned seafood products. Therefore, Saudi Arabia is a very potential market for Vietnamese tuna businesses to increase exports. This is also the 12th largest tuna import market in the world in 2020 in terms of value.

Therefore, Vietnam is looking forward to further promoting seafood exports to this market. Recently, the Vietnam Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have sent documents to request export licenses for 25 Vietnamese seafood enterprises, in which tuna is an important product. It is expected that, after being evaluated and accepted for these 25 more enterprises, the market share of Vietnamese seafood in Saudi Arabia will increase.

It is known that relevant ministries and agencies of Vietnam are continuing to make efforts to lobby the Saudi Arabia side to move towards completely removing the temporary ban on seafood imports from Vietnam.

However, in order to stand firmly in the Saudi market, Mr. Tran Trong Kim, Head of the Vietnam Trade Office in Saudi Arabia, notes that Vietnamese seafood enterprises need to properly and fully meet hygiene and food safety standards and packaging regulations when exporting products to this market.

Saudi Arabia is a “high quality required” market. SFDA has issued and regulated food safety and hygiene conditions according to European and American standards. Import products are checked for compliance with regulations very strictly. Violating enterprises will be deprived of business licenses, fined, even imprisoned, all infringing goods will be destroyed, etc.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, tuna exports in March 2022 continued to grow well at 58% over the same period, bringing in US$ 104 million. This figure has contributed to the total value of tuna exports in the first three months of this year to the highest level in the past five years.

Specifically, in the first quarter, Vietnam's tuna export value reached more than US$ 259 million, up 72% over the same period in 2021, and 1.6 times higher than the same period in 2019, the time before outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Export orders for high-value frozen tuna meat and fillets in the first quarter increased by 123% over the same period last year, reaching US$ 184 million, bringing the proportion of export value of this product group up from 55% in the first quarter of 2021 to 72% in the first quarter of this year. Exports of other processed tuna products, mainly frozen steamed tuna, also increased by 37% over the same period.

According to Ms. Nguyen Ha, the impressive growth of tuna exports in the first months of this year has been marked by an essential impression from markets with free trade agreements with Vietnam. For example, tuna exports to the EU reached nearly US$ 38 million in the first three months of the year, up 33% over the same period last year.

Tuna exports to many countries in the CPTPP market have also grown remarkably, such as Chile by 71% and Canada by 70%... It shows that tuna businesses have made good use of incentives from FTAs.

Authors: Thanh Son - Hong Thuy

Translated by Duc Thuan

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