Uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic are seen as a key factor leading to a decline of 7.6% year-on-year in Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables in January to US$260 million, according to the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
|Farmers harvesting dragon fruits at Binh Thuan province. Photo: Nguyen Thanh|
“Changes in customers’ behavior and tightened customs clearance process are causing difficulties for the exports of fruits and vegetables,” noted the MoIT.
The MoIT urged local enterprises to ensure product quality and food safety standards to avoid delay in trading activities.
In the first month of the year, China remained the largest buyer of Vietnamese agricultural products with US$1.84 billion in turnover, down 25.7% year-on-year but accounting for 56.3% of the total.
The US claimed the second spot at US$168.8 million, or 5.2% of the total, followed by Thailand (US$157.2 million), South Korea (US$143 million), and Japan (US$127.7 million).
Last year, Vietnam exported vegetables and fruits worth US$3.26 billion, down 13% year-on-year, with China as the largest export market with 56% of the total turnover.
All key products under this category witnessed a sharp decline in terms of export turnover in 2020, including dragon fruit (-10%); banana (-13%); durian (-56%); watermelon (-36%) and lychee (-22%).
Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association said a lower trade turnover in 2020 was due to a 25% decline in import demand from China.
“In a scenario without the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables could have surpassed the US$4-billion-mark last year,” said Mr. Nguyen.
A recovery in demand from China and better Covid-19 containment around the world would be vital to ensure higher trade turnover of Vietnam’s fruits and vegetables in 2021, he added.