Agricultural exports strive to reach US$40 billion

Monday, 2018-07-23 19:07:59
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NDO - In the first half of 2018, agriculture grew at its highest rate of the past 10 years, increasing by 4%. The export value of farming, forestry and fishery products increased by 12%, with export revenue estimated at US$19.4 billion. Many agricultural products are the highlight of the industry such as rice, forest products, and vegetables. This is the premise for the agriculture sector to continue its strategic planning and achieve its target of US$40 billion worth of agricultural product exports in 2018.

Rice, vegetables, cashews and seafood have witnessed good export growth in the first six months of this year. Markets seeing major export growth are Indonesia (rice, coffee, rubber), China (vegetables, rubber, seafood), Germany (tea, seafood, cashew nuts, Malaysia (rice, tea), Iraq, Hong Kong (China), and the Philippines (rice), Saudi Arabia (tea), the US (cashew nuts, vegetables, rice), and India (rubber, pepper).

Specifically, Vietnam’s rice exports in the first six months of 2018 reached 3.56 million tonnes and earned US$1.81 billion, up 25% in volume and 42% in value over the same period last year. Meanwhile, export revenue of fruits and vegetable in the first six months was estimated at US$2 billion, an annual increase of 20.3%.

There has been a remarkable increase in export revenue from major markets. China is in the lead with US$1.2 billion, accounting for 74.6% of the total and up 18.1% over the same period of 2017, followed by the US with US$50.9 million, up 14.6%. Export revenue earned from such markets as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand also increased by 8%, 15.4% and 26% over the same period in 2017, respectively.

Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables exports have seen impressive growth, bringing home foreign currencies over the past decade. The export figure soared from US$151.5 million in 2003 to US$1.07 billion in 2013, and US$2.458 billion in 2016, over 80% of them were from fruits.

In an effort to maintain the momentum of high growth over the remaining months of the year with the US$40 billion agricultural product export target, regulators, the agricultural sector will face many risks from natural disasters as well as difficulties in export markets in the context of fierce competition for large markets along with the trend of trade protection in importing countries. More synchronous and effective solutions should be devised to reach the goal.

First of all, concrete actions must be taken to remove the “yellow card” of the European Commission issued on fishery products. According to Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, so far more than 60 members of the association have committed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has proposed ministries, sectors and People's Committees of coastal provinces and cities enhance the management of fisheries and create a systemic change in aquatic resource management.

In particular, it is necessary to have specific solutions for products with a high export value. For example, forestry saw a trade surplus with more than US$4 billion in exports in the first six months, up 12.7% over the same period last year. The goal of earning US$9 billion from forest products exports in 2018 can be achieved if Vietnam is more active in the source of raw materials through the conversion of hundreds of thousands of hectares of small timber forest into large timber forests. At the same time, enterprises should be encouraged to use legal sources while large timber areas with certification should be promoted, while linkages between growers and processors should be promoted to increase the value of forest products.

Since the beginning of the year, delegations of the MARD have actively conducted trade promotion activities for agricultural products, especially vegetables. Most recently, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong took a working trip to Japan. Accordingly, the MARD has asked Japan to swiftly approve the import of lychees from Vietnam. Vietnam is also negotiating to export mangoes to the US market. Currently, as technical processes are urgently carried out, it is most likely to be the third quarter or later in the fourth quarter of 2018 that Vietnamese mangoes will be officially exported to the US.

In addition to intensifying negotiations, removing and opening up markets, the agriculture sector will coordinate with trade counsellors of Vietnamese embassies abroad to maintain the presence of Vietnam’s agricultural products in traditional markets.