The fisheries sector plays a key role and is a highly dynamic sector in the Vietnamese economy, providing income to 8 million people (around 10% of the country's population). In 2011 seafood exports contributed approximately USD 6.1 billion out of a total export value of USD 71.6 billion. Currently, the fisheries sector ranks third in terms of foreign export earnings after the garment and crude oil industries, but ahead of other agricultural products such as rice and rubber. The most important seafood products in Vietnam are pangasius, shrimp, tuna, and molluscs (including clams, oysters, mussels, squid and cuttlefish). Aquaculture has grown strongly in the last decade, especially pangasius and shrimp.
Vietnam exports fishery products to more than 100 countries. The EU ranks on top of the list and the US and Japan on second and third place. Within the EU, The Netherlands is in the top three countries importing seafood from Vietnam. In 2011, the export to the Netherlands even increased by 20% in value compared to 2010.
The fishery sector is however confronted with various bottlenecks throughout the value chain which affect growth prospects and Vietnam's ability to get more value for its products on international markets. Companies have difficulty in understanding and complying with EU market requirements on issues like food safety, traceability, sustainability, certification/labelling etc. Furthermore, the pangasius sector, has grown in an unstructured way and is now confronted with low prices/profitability and image problems on the EU market. In addition, despite the strong export orientation of the sector, both companies and institutions are lacking essential international business skills.
In view of the above, the CBI programme strategy will basically focus on three areas of intervention. First creating awareness on relevant EU market requirements, facilitating companies and institutions to develop the right compliance strategies. The second area of intervention focuses on assisting the Pangasius sector with developing a marketing and branding strategy and providing guidance in implementation to achieve a better overall average price per unit product. Thirdly, by conducting relevant training/coaching on international business skills, further professionalizing the export sector by means of improved marketing and market entry strategies, is envisaged.