Vietnam’s tuna exports to Japan have dropped for four consecutive years since 2013 partly due to high import tariff at 6.4 percent – 7.2 percent.
After peaking at 54 million USD in 2012, Vietnam’s tuna exports to Japan went down to below 20 million USD in 2016. From the third largest importer of Vietnamese tuna, Japan dropped to the sixth place the same year.
The high import tariff reduces Vietnam’s tuna competitiveness against products from other regional countries such as Thailand and the Philippines, which enjoy a 0 percent tariff in the Japanese market.
Tuna exports showed optimistic signs in 2016 when export value rose 9.3 percent on-year to over 500 million USD, but shipments to Japan accounted for only 4 percent of the total figure.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade to put tuna in the list of products subject to tariff cut during negotiations for the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA).
Preliminary statistics from Vietnam Customs showed that Vietnam’s tuna export turnover in January 2017 reached nearly 34 million USD.
Shipments to Japan unexpectedly surged in the month, making Japan Vietnam’s fourth biggest tuna market, after the US, EU and ASEAN, with a year-on-year surge of 113 percent.
However, it would be difficult for the Southeast Asian country to maintain these exports if the Japanese government still maintains the current import tax levels.
Currently, Vietnamese tuna accounts for a small proportion in the Japanese market, with 0.5 percent of fresh and frozen tuna market share and two percent of canned tuna.
To help tuna exporters gain a competitive edge, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has pledged to discuss the issue with the Japanese side when the two countries review the VJEPA in the time ahead.