Vietnam

With a population of almost 92 million in 2015, Vietnam is the eighth-most-populous Asian country and ranks 14th worldwide. Vietnam is located on the eastern Indochina Peninsula and covers a total area of 331,210 km2 (comparable to Germany e.g.). Until today, agriculture has been a key contributor to the overall economy, in which the flat and fertile river deltas such as the Red River Delta in the North and the Mekong River Delta in southern Vietnam play an important role. With a coastline of 3,444 km in length it should not be a surprise that fishery has been an important source of food and income throughout history. Likewise, the aquaculture sector, which is dominated by brackish water and freshwater production systems, is said to have a long historic tradition. While it mostly contributed to subsistence farming in the past, aquaculture has become an important part of the national economy since its commercial orientation as part of the Blue Revolution in the 1990s. In 2014, Vietnam became the third major seafood exporter, overtaking Thailand as the leading southeast Asian exporter. Its key aquaculture sectors include pangasius, shrimp, tilapia and increasingly also bivalves and marine fishes such as cobia, seabass and grouper.

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Alban Caratis
Alban Caratis
Country Expert: Vietnam

Vietnam's seafood sector

According to FAO, Vietnam has the 8th most important marine fisheries worldwide with harvests of 2,711,100 tonnes in 2014. In addition, it produced some 208,100 tonnes from inland fisheries. In terms of aquaculture production, Vietnam ranks 4th worldwide. Overall, Vietnam became the third major seafood exporter, overtaking Thailand as the leading southeast Asian exporter in 2014. More than 5 million people are directly employed in the seafood sector and around 8 million people derive their income from the fisheries sector. The value of seafood exports has increased from US$ 776 million in 1997 to US$ 5.8 billion in 2015. In the same year, the seafood sector contributed 8% to the nation's economy, with aquaculture contributing considerably with, 65-70% to the total output.

Fisheries and aquaculture production

Source: FAO (2016)

While production from fisheries has slightly increased between 2010 and 2014, Vietnam’s capture fisheries is estimated to have reached its total sustainable yield some years ago. The total capture volume will therefore stabilize over the coming years and cannot be expected to grow further.

The most important export product categories are tuna, cephalopods, and surimi products. The most important fisheries are located in the central Vietnam areas (tuna, surimi) and the Gulf of Thailand (cephalopods). Vietnam also possesses a MSC-certified clam fisheries located in Ben Tre.

In the same period (2010-2014), aquaculture production has significantly increased, growing by 27% from a total of 2,688,817 tonnes in 2010 to a total of 3,411,391 tonnes in 2014. Major contributors to this increase were shrimp products, tilapia and pangasius.

Production per species in 2014 (volume in tonnes)

Source: FAO (2016)

The category 'cultured freshwater fish' includes fish farmed in brackish water.

Cultured freshwater fish represents more than 75% of the total annual production, of which pangasius contributes the biggest part. However, in the future, pangasius production is expected to decrease, while tilapia production will further grow. Crustaceans are another important contributor to the total production with almost 15% in 2014. While P. monodon has traditionally been the dominating species, L. vannamei is picking up and almost equalled P. monodon production in recent years. Molluscs account for nearly 6%, while aquatic plants had only a marginal impact on the total production volume. This figure might be intriguing since molluscs are very important for the domestic market.

Seafood export markets

Trade Map (2016), International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis

In the above table, European Union and EFTA countries are combined as one group as Switzerland is also an important importer of seafood (plus value added) from Vietnam.

The United States are Vietnam’s biggest export partner, importing nearly US$ 1.7 billion of seafood products in 2014, accounting for 20% of total Vietnamese exports. The EU and EFTA comes second with 18.5% or nearly US$ 1.5 billion. Japan (12.3%) comes third and is the most important partner in Asia, followed by Korea (8.3%) and Canada (2.9%).

Within the European Union, Germany is the most important export partner for Vietnam. With 3% of total export volume (US$ 210 million) it ranks forth by countries, importing more seafood products from Vietnam than Canada. It is followed by the United Kingdom (2.7%), France (2.4%) and the Netherlands (1.7%).

Export product composition in 2014 (US$ mln)

Trade Map (2016), International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis

By value, crustaceans contributed almost a third to the total export volume in 2014, creating a value of more than US$ 2.5 billion. This reflects the variety of shrimp farming systems that can be viewed under the respective 'species' page. Filleted fish comes second with almost the same export value. Here it is pangasius and tilapia that are important sectors, also well-described in the species section. Prepared and preserved molluscs and crustaceans account for 20% of the annual value in 2014, while prepared and preserved fish and molluscs with US$ 445 million each made nearly 12% together. In terms of export volume, the exports of pangasius is much higher than the exports of shrimp.

Certifications

Last updated: 01/01/2017

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 30 22,946
    Pangasius 39 217,255
    Tilapia 2 1,800
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 44 25,469
    Pangasius 15 81,964
    Tilapia 4 5,708
  • Naturland

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 2000 4410
    Pangasius 1 610
  • GLOBALG.A.P.

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 20 16,635
    Pangasius 18 122,851
Trade and Investment regulations

Vietnam scores 90 out of 189 on the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business in’ Index. The EU is an important trade partner of Vietnam and vice versa. Many European companies are doing business in the country.
This section provides you with up to date information about trading and investing in aquaculture, fisheries and processing in Vietnam. Click the links below to learn more!

  1. GSP facilities and Free Trade Agreements
  2. Setting up a representative or branch office
  3. FDI regulation and setting up a subsidiary company
  4. Taxes and duties
  5. Custom procedures
  6. Arbitration law
  7. Cultural do’s and don’ts

Do you want to start business in Vietnam? Contact us!

Sector support programs

Programmes currently being implemented

  • Aquaculture 2.0: Sustainable Innovation in Vietnam’s Aquaculture Industry

    ‘Aquaculture 2.0: Sustainable Innovation in Vietnam’s Aquaculture Industry’ is a competition funded by the Dutch government that aims at linking innovative project ideas with investors in order to drive change within the Vietnamese aquaculture sector. To be kicked off during the Blue Growth Conference that is organised by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in October 2016 in Vietnam, the competition involves different activities that target at supporting the Vietnamese government in its aim to lead the aquaculture sector into sustainable growth. The winners of the competition will be coached and assisted in order to turn their ideas into investable business plans.

    STIP, Solidaridad, Fresh Studio & University of Wageningen
  • SUPERSEAS - Supermarket supported area-based management and certification of aquaculture in southeast Asia

    The overall aim of SUPERSEAS is to improve the design of area-based management for aquaculture production in order to reduce the social and environmental risks associated with smallholder aquaculture. Moreover it aims to improve the terms under which smallholders are incorporated in domestic, regional and international retail-led value chains. Funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and implemented by the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands), SUPERSEAS uses a participatory multidisciplinary approach working with a broad range of organizations and stakeholders within the aquaculture field.

    Wageningen University and partner organizations
  • ASC shrimp certification for Thong Thuan and Thong Thuan Cam Ranh farms in Vietnam

    The project’s goal is to make current shrimp farming practices of the Thong Thuan Seafood Company more sustainable and to produce 4,500 MT of ASC certified shrimp. The three objectives of the project are: 1) to apply responsible practices through the application of ASC shrimp standards; 2) to minimize losses of disease by strengthening capacity in disease prevention and biosecurity; and 3) integration into the global market by strengthening branding and marketing capacity.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • Supporting aquaculture producers in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam with the transition towards sustainable production through ASC certification

    This project aims to support aquaculture producers in the Mekong Delta moving towards sustainable production, reducing negative environmental and social impacts. The project includes 6 pangasius farms, 1 tilapia farm and 10 shrimp farms belonging to 12 private companies. The project aims to achieve 46,800 MT of pangasius, 10,000 MT of tilapia and 9,250 MT of shrimp ASC certified.

    World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Sao Ta (Soc Trang farm) in Vietnam

    This project aims to achieve 1,200 MT of ASC certified shrimp by the application of more responsible production practices. Through the application of ASC certification it aims to intensify production and meet the demand of international buyers.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Minh Phu Seafood Corporation & Vinh Thuan in Vietnam

    This is the first project in Vietnam to support large-scale shrimp farmers to adopt ASC production. MinhPhu and Vinh Thuan are two of the largest shrimp producers in Vietnam. With the support of the FIT Fund each producer expects to deliver 3,000 MT of sustainable shrimp annually.

    SNV World
  • Promoting better management practices, ASC certification and improving marketing by establishing supply chains of responsibly produced shrimp in the Mekong delta of Vietnam

    This project promotes the transition of at least 26 farmer groups/cooperatives towards responsible shrimp production by applying Better Management Practices and it supports at least 2 large scale-farms and 4 farmer groups/cooperatives in obtaining ASC certification. It aims to reach 4,300 MT of responsible produced shrimp (780 MT/year for large-scale farms and 3,520 MT/year for small-scale farms). Furthermore the project supports the establishment of sustainable supply chains by linking small- and large-scale farmers (horizontal links) with service providers, processors and seafood buyers (vertical links), providing benefits and reducing vulnerabilities for shrimp farmers, especially for small-scale shrimp farmers.

    World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Minh Phu Seafood Corporation in Vietnam

    This project aims to achieve 3,000 MT of sustainably produced shrimp, minimize negative impact on the environment and contribute to the development of communities and society through the application of ASC standards and the integration into the global market. Through the project and application of ASC shrimp standards, the farm will upgrade its infrastructure, apply more sustainable practices and use more responsible feed and high quality seed.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • Selva Shrimp Aquaculture Improvement Program in Vietnam

    Selva Shrimp is an unique aquaculture improvement program for silvofishery small-scale shrimp farming in southeast Asia. Shrimps are raised in small channels within the forest, with no feed or chemicals. Mangrove forests are maintained in order to provide habitat and food. The Selva Shrimp program has been designed to address challenges of intensification of the shrimp farming industry and to increase pressure on natural resources that traditional silvofishery systems face in southeast Asia. Moreover it aspires to create a solid foundation for improvement and maintenance of silvofisheries. The project aims to reach 3,000 MT of responsibly produced shrimp through the implementation of Selva shrimp, ASC or organic certification.

    Blueyou Consulting