Compared to high export growth of tra fish to ASEAN in 2018 (up 41.5% and reaching US$ 202.6 million), the growth rate in the last 5 months is relatively modest. However, in the context that the overall export of tra fish remained stable compared to the same period last year (tra fish export turnover in the first 6 months reached US$ 995 million, down 0.7%), the above growth rate of the market ASEAN is very significant.
Among ASEAN countries, Thailand is still the most important market of Vietnamese tra fish. In the first 5 months of this year, tra fish export to Thailand reached US$ 32.5 million, up 9.2% compared to the same period of 2018 (in May, 2019, tra fish export to Thailand reached US$ 6.5 million, up to 35.5% over the same period). Notably, in the last 5 months, tra fish has always accounted for 40-90% of Thailand's total value of imported white fish. The white fish in general is increasing in proportion to the structure of frozen seafood groups imported into Thailand. Therefore, tra fish is continuing to have more opportunities to grow export to Thailand in the coming time.
Despite being an emerging market in ASEAN in recent years, the Philippines have quickly become the second largest market of Vietnamese tra fish in the region. In the first 5 months of this year, tra fish export to the Philippines reached US$ 19 million, up 25% compared to the same period last year. It is noteworthy that Vietnam is the only one and largest market for white fish, including tra fish, for the Philippines.
For the Malaysian market, Vietnam is also the leading country in the supply of white fish, including tra fish. By the end of May 2019, the value of tra fish export to Malaysia reached US$ 18.8 million, up 47.3% over the same period last year. Malaysia imports white fish from different countries such as China, America, England, France, etc. But Vietnam is still the largest supplier to Malaysia. Therefore, Malaysia is considered as one of the promising markets of Vietnam tra fish in ASEAN in the coming time.
The export of tra fish to ASEAN continued to grow well, having a significant impact from the regional free trade agreements, especially the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA). Currently, according to the provisions of ATIGA, ACFTA (ASEAN-China Free Trade Area) and AKFTA (ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement), the tax on frozen tra fish fillet is at 0%.
Demand for tra fish imports in many countries in ASEAN is increasing or remains stable. Therefore, ASEAN market is becoming more and more important for Vietnamese tra fish and there is much potential to boost exports of tra fish to this block in the near future. In 2018, ASEAN has become the fourth largest market for Vietnamese tra fish after the US, China and EU.