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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Seafood exports drop sharply during social distancing

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HCMC – Stringent social distancing measures in 19 southern cities and provinces over the past two months have severely affected the seafood manufacturing and processing industry, resulting in a sharp decline in seafood exports, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Data from VASEP showed that Vietnam’s seafood exports to major markets such as the United States and Europe in August plunged 16-50% compared with the same period last year. Specifically, seafood exports to the Netherlands and Germany saw the steepest decline, at nearly 50% and 42%, respectively.

Meanwhile, seafood exports to Japan and China dropped 36%.

The country’s total seafood exports reached US$588 million last month, falling nearly 28% year-on-year. 

Exports of most key seafood products were affected. Particularly, exports of shrimp, catfish, tuna, and squid and octopus fell 36%, 31%, 25% and 23%, respectively, compared with the same period last year. 

Le Van Quang, chairman of the board of directors of Minh Phu Corporation, said seafood companies in the southern cities and provinces were required to apply the stay-at-work mode during the social distancing period, leading to higher production costs and lower productivity.

According to Quang, Minh Phu Corporation is able to provide accommodation at the factory for only 25% of its employees.

Seafood companies in the South account for 90-95% of the country’s total seafood exports. Some companies said they would go bankrupt if they are not able to resume operations by September 15.

Even if social distancing measures are relaxed after September 15 and they can resume operations soon, it will be hard for them to fulfill orders for the year-end peak season. 

According to Vo Quan Huy, one of the biggest challenges that seafood companies are facing during the social distancing period is the shortage of workers. 

Besides, difficulties in the transport of products, materials and equipment have caused disruptions in the industry.

To help businesses, especially seafood producers and exporters ride out difficulties, the Government has issued Resolution No. 105, asking the relevant agencies to promptly support them. 

In the resolution, the Government asked the Ministry of Health to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination for workers in the manufacturing and processing industry. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport must simplify procedures to ensure the smooth transport of goods between localities. 

Moreover, the State Bank of Vietnam should launch more financial incentives for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and expand beneficiaries of supporting policies. 

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