Vietnam's seafood industry urged the Prime Minister to approve a VND10 trillion ($429.4 million) low-interest loan package to help domestic producers sustain operations and ensure the livelihoods of smallholders.
This was one of the proposals made by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) at a conference chaired by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to boost seafood production and export.
VASEP Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thu Sac briefed the conference on the current context of the seafood industry and the challenges facing Vietnamese seafood exporters. She said that inflation has led to a reduction in demand for seafood from Vietnam's major export markets, and orders for Vietnamese companies have decreased by 20-50% compared to previous periods. Meanwhile, Vietnamese seafood producers are facing an increase in input costs, rising packaging, energy and labor costs.
Meanwhile, inventories increased as a result of the decline in orders, which came at a time when companies needed the money to continue business and make their loan payments on time.
As a result, exports fell 27% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. Shrimp, fish, and tuna were among the items suffering a decline in exports and markets.
She added that one way to address the problems is to change the structure of export markets and products. "Vietnam's seafood exports are expected to gradually recover from the third quarter of 2023," she said.
She emphasized that the proposed program will serve as a catalyst for Vietnam's seafood industry to gain access to preferential loans and foreign currency loan interest rates of less than 4%, which are significant for small-scale farmers and exporters, enabling them to purchase and stock raw materials for production plans. In addition, the government should consider allowing the import of legally-caught seafood to meet the needs of processing for export.
At the conference, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh emphasized the goal of removing difficulties and obstacles, especially in terms of markets, institutions, and credit capital for the production, processing and export of forest and aquatic products.
The Prime Minister asked ministries, industries and localities to promptly process proposals from domestic producers and exporters in the forestry and fishery sectors and to forecast and build scenarios in accordance with operation and response plans. While the market for Vietnamese exports shrinks, it is necessary to support enterprises to effectively tap the domestic consumer market of 100 million people and promote the campaign "Vietnamese people buy Vietnamese goods".
He also urged VASEP to look for solutions to secure domestic input sources by expanding investment and developing raw material areas, leading the value chain between farmers, fishermen, and enterprises to ensure raw materials for processing, export and traceability, and food safety. He stressed the need to support local businesses in a substantial and timely manner.
In 2022, Vietnam recorded $11 billion in seafood export revenues, ranking Vietnam among the top three seafood exporters.
This year, the Southeast Asian country targets seafood revenues of $10 billion, down 9% on-year.