(seafood.vasep.com.vn) In recent years, the Middle East has become an important tuna export market for Vietnam. According to statistics of Vietnam Customs, in the first 5 months of 2021, the Middle East is Vietnam's fourth largest tuna export market after the US, EU and CPTPP. The value of Vietnam's tuna exports to this market block reached nearly 27 million USD, accounting for 9% of the total value of Vietnam's tuna exports, and up 7% over the same period in 2020.
Several factors are increasing demand in the region such as the end of the conflict in Libya (a major tuna consumer market), the more health-conscious consumers in Saudi Arabia, and an increase in demand of the Egyptian people for an “affordable source of protein”.
Last year, like other markets when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the first months of the year, panic buying of tuna products to stockpile in the Middle East occurred. However, after that, sales in this market stabilized again. Therefore, Vietnam's processed tuna exports to the Middle East in the first five months of 2021 are only equivalent to the same period in 2020, reaching $17.2 million. In contrast, the export of fresh and frozen tuna to this market increased sharply by 78%, reaching more than US$9.5 million.
Currently, Vietnam's tuna products have been exported to 12 countries in this market block. In which, Israel, Egypt and Libya are the three largest importers of Vietnamese tuna in this market. Compared to the same period in 2020, the countries with export growth are Israel (up 37%), Libya (up 16%), UAE (up 61%) and Bahrain (up 69%).
Israel, with the value of tuna imports from Vietnam in the first 5 months of 2021 reaching more than 15 million USD, is currently the third largest single tuna export market of Vietnam. After a continuous decline in the first 2 months of the year, Vietnam's tuna exports have increased again and the growth rate is increasing.
Meanwhile, Vietnam's tuna exports to Egypt decreased by 3%. The recovery of the Egyptian economy, with the local currency strengthening against the dollar, has also helped boost demand for tuna in the country. This has helped Vietnamese tuna exports to this market increase positively in the first 2 months of the year. However, since March, Vietnam's tuna exports to this market have decreased continuously. One of the reasons for this decline is that Egyptian importers used the excuse of difficulties and losses due to the epidemic situation to demand payment for goods in installments, putting pressure on prices to reduce... businesses are afraid to export to this market.
In Libya, the stability of the political situation and the Libyan economy has helped increase the demand for tuna. And this has impacted on Vietnam's tuna exports to this market. Although Vietnam's tuna exports to this market are still not stable, in the past 2 months, the export value has been increasing continuously.