Redirecting markets for agricultural exports

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam’s agro-forestry and fishery exports were estimated at US$6.17 billion in the first two months of 2021, representing an increase of 16.6% over the same period last year.

Vietnam's agro-forestry and fishery exports reach US$6.17 billion in the first two months of 2021.
Vietnam's agro-forestry and fishery exports reach US$6.17 billion in the first two months of 2021.

Specifically, the country reported export revenue of about US$3.14 billion in the group of key agricultural products (up 19% year-on-year), US$52 million in the husbandry sector (up 13.8%), over US$1 billion in aquatic products (up 0.7%), and more than US$2.6 billion in key wooden items (up 50.1%). During the January-February period, the US remained the largest importer of Vietnamese agro-forestry-fishery products, with a value of US$2.04 billion, up 57.3% year-on-year and accounting for 33.05% of the market share. It was followed by China with US$1.88 million (up 57.9% and 30.53% of market share), the EU with US$594 million, Japan with US$573 million (up 15.5%), and the Republic of Korea (RoK) with US$410 million (up 18%).

In addition to the visible result that Vietnam’s agro-forestry and fishery exports are able to maintain growth momentum in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to negatively impact global trade, another remarkable point is that the US has overtaken China to become the largest export market for Vietnam. Along with the strong turnover growth in the EU, Japan and RoK markets, this shows that Vietnam’s agriculture industry is strong redirecting towards reaching and conquering high-quality markets, proactively expanding the markets, and reducing dependence on some traditional markets. Also, the aforementioned results have demonstrated that Vietnamese agro-forestry and fishery products are truly prestigious and have affirmed their quality and food safety and hygiene, meeting the most stringent standards of many countries around the world.

However, looking from the US market, Vietnam’s export items are mainly timber and wood products, rubber, and cashew nuts, while many other commodities such as rice and fruit still report modest figures in terms of both quantity and export revenue although these are Vietnam’s industries of strength with a relatively large workforce. The reason is that there are not many products of these commodity groups that meet the quality criteria to be exported to the US market, despite the fact that the US market’s current demand and capacity for agricultural products remains very large.

Therefore, to diversify agricultural products which are eligible for exports to high-quality markets such as the US, the EU, and Japan, the prerequisite is still to improve product quality on the basis of applying good agricultural practices to achieve VietGAP and GlobalGAP certificates as well as the separate certificates of each importing country. In recent times, Vietnam has participated in many free trade agreements, creating clear competitive advantages in terms of tariffs for agro-forestry and fishery exports. The focus on satisfying the criteria of quality, design, food safety and hygiene is definitely a worthwhile investment steering the agricultural sector to greater profits in the future.