Given complex developments in the East Sea, Vietnam’s key agricultural exports like rice, rubber and cassava continued to face a plenty of challenges. However, contrary to popular worries, the country’s export performances in the first six months showed signs of improvement and pinned hopes on bright economic picture in 2014.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products was estimated over US$2 billion in June, totalling US$14.67 billion in the first six months of 2014, up 11.2 percent year on year. Specifically, agricultural staples accounted for US$7.15 billion, up 6.6 percent; seafood contributed US$3.45 billion, up 24.2 percent; and forest products made up for US$3.01 billion, up 14.9 percent.
Among key agricultural products, pepper export growth was the most impressive in the first half of this year. Its export value beats estimates by far in the reporting period. The commodity is expected to generate US$1 billion of export revenue for the first time this year. Vietnam exported 16,000 tonnes of pepper worth US$127 million in June and 111,000 tonnes worth US$790 million from January to June, up 36.2 percent in volume and 47.8 percent in value.
Coffee was also a surprising export. The country sold 109,000 tonnes abroad for US$229 million in June and raked in US$2.12 billion from exporting 1.04 million tonnes in the first half, up 24.7 percent in value and up 31.7 percent in volume from a year ago. The average coffee export price was US$2,025 per tonne in the first five months, down 5.85 percent from a year earlier.
The country exported 27,000 tonnes of cashew nuts worth US$178 million in June, bringing the export volume to 130,000 tonnes and the value to US$829 million in the first six months of 2014, up 17.5 percent in volume and 19.5 percent in value year on year. In the first five months of 2014, the export price of cashew nut was US$6,342 per tonne, up 1.18 percent year on year.
Seafood export value was estimated at US$536 million in June, grossing US$3.45 billion in the first half of 2014, up 24.2 percent year on year. The strong growth was attributed to shrimp export because domestic material supply was abundant, export prices were high while shrimp production in other major exporters shrank on disease outbreaks.
However, the country will need to have appropriate measures to boost up key exports in the second half of the year. Rice export volume was estimated at 479,000 tonnes worth US$212 million in June, totalling 3.2 million tonnes and US$1.44 billion in the first six months of 2014, down 9.9 percent in volume and 8 percent in value year on year. The average export rice price was US$439 per tonne in the first five months, down 0.1 percent from a year earlier.
Shares in traditional markets
While seeing a significant growth in key exports, Vietnam also saw expanding shares in traditional markets. China remained the main export markets of Vietnam’s agricultural products in general and rice in particular (40.46 percent of market share). The Philippine outstood with an increase of 2.65 times in volume in the first five months of the year, compared with the same period in 2013. This impressive growth made the Philippines the second biggest importer of Vietnam’s rice, with 20.66 percent of market share, followed by Ghana and Singapore with respective market shares of 4.39 percent and 3.63 percent.
Germany and the United States continued to be the two biggest coffee markets of Vietnam in the first five months of 2014, with respective market shares of 14.35 percent and 9.76 percent. Belgium posted the strongest growth, with an increase of 2.73 times in volume and 2.53 times in value compared with the first five months of 2013.
Pepper export growth was the most impressive in the first half of this year. The United States, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and India, the four largest importers of Vietnam’s pepper, accounted for 47.43 percent of the market share in the first five months 2014. The shipments to the US rose 25.58 percent in volume and 31.56 percent in value. Singapore saw a double increase in volume and a treble growth in value. The United Arab Emirates saw the growth of 55.17 percent in volume and 75.17 percent in value. The shipments to India increased more than 2 times in both volume and value. Remarkably, exports to Span jumped more than five times in volume and almost eight times in value from a year ago.
The United States maintained the largest importer of Vietnamese seafood, accounting for 23 percent of Vietnam’s exports. Seafood exports to this market reached US$671.86 million in the first five months, up 45.83 percent year on year. The shipments to other markets like Japan, South Korea and China increased 8.36 percent, 45.92 percent and 51.74 percent, respectively.
To bolster export growth, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is carrying out drastic measures to adjust production scales and expand export markets.