According to the statistics by the General Department of Customs of Vietnam, seafood exports to the UK market reached nearly USD 44 million in the first two months of 2022, up 37% from the same period last year, with sales of shrimp alone accounting for as much as 76%, valued at USD 33.5 million, up 55%. Vietnam saw a remarkable exportation of black tiger shrimp to the UK, increasing sixfold as much as the same period last year.
In 2021, the UK ranked the fifth position among single importing markets of Vietnamese seafood, accounting for 3.6%, valued at USD 316 million, down 8.3%. Vietnam is the fourth biggest provider of seafood to the UK market, accounting for 7% of the market share after Norway and Iceland, the two powerhouses of white meat fish.
It has been one year since Vietnam and the UK signed the UKVFTA; and yet, Vietnam’s seafood exports have not recorded any breakthrough upon preferential tariffs and regulations. All procedures related to exportation to this market are subject to the EVFTA which was signed and became effective in August 2020.
The reduction in sales of Vietnamese seafood to the UK in 2021 was driven by the Covid19 pandemic which resulted in a sharp increase in freight charges. Especially in quarter III, the UK was one of the markets experiencing a serious decrease in purchasing Vietnamese seafood by nearly 30%.
Last year, shrimp exportation was a key sector, accounting for 74% of the total seafood value to the UK, however, down 3.5%. Besides the increase in freight charges, Vietnamese shrimps had to cope with a fierce competition against Indian shrimps in the UK market because Indian shrimp were sold at cheaper prices, especially small sized shrimp which were suitable to the retail market amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, in 2021 exports of pangasius, tuna and other aquatic species to the UK fell by 20-26% as compared to 2020.
However, seafood exports to this market have recovered rapidly, up 45% in January and 25% in February as compared to the same period last year. In the first two months of the year, sales of white leg shrimp accounted for 69% of the total seafood going to the UK, valued at USD 30.4%, up 54%. Sales of black tiger shrimp accounted for 2.7%, but increased sixfold as much as the same period last year, showing a good sign. As forecasted, seafood exports to the UK will remain a double digit growth in the next few months.