Coronavirus halts shrimp exports to China

By Hong Chau   February 11, 2020 | 06:13 pm PT
Coronavirus halts shrimp exports to China
Vietnamese workers devein shrimp at a processing factory in My Xuyen District, southern Soc Trang Province. Photo by AFP/Roberto Schmidt.
Vietnamese exporters have had to put hundreds of tons of shrimp into storage, after Chinese traders stopped taking deliveries amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Chinese importers have notified Vietnamese shrimp exporters, many of whom have received orders for hundreds of tons of shrimp, to stop or delay delivery of shipments.

Storage costs are building up day by day, said the anonymous owner of a shrimp business. His business had received an order of 600 tons of shrimp, but was only able to deliver half before the Lunar New Year holiday, the rest headed for storage.

Vietnamese shrimp exporters also complained that negative sentiment induced by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has made it harder to win new orders from major importers in South Korea, the U.S. or EU.

The epidemic has further hampered trade between China and other shrimp suppliers, such as Ecuador, India and Thailand, who are currently seeing shrimp shipments stuck at Chinese ports awaiting customs clearance.

Many ships remain undock at Chinese ports due to slow or halted cargo handling services. Thus, foreign exporters are also looking for alternative markets like the U.S. or EU, which could affect worldwide demand for Vietnamese shrimp, local exporters stated.

However, according to Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Vietnamese shrimp now has the opportunity to gain a larger market share in U.S., Japan and EU markets. These are traditional export markets for Chinese shrimp, but have all temporarily halted orders of shrimp from the hard-hit nation.

China was one of Vietnam’s six biggest importers of shrimp in 2019, with related exports to China last year reaching $543 million, up 10.3 percent year-on-year, but this figure is forecasted to fall this year as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to VASEP.

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