EVFTA opportunities for Vietnamese seafood products

Germany is a market with relatively stable demand for seafood products, with salmon, fish fillets and shrimp being the most consumed in Germany. In 2020, Germany's per capita seafood consumption was 5 kg/person/year, increased from 14.3 kg/person/year in 2019 (Statista.com, 2021). Germany is also one of the largest seafood importers in Europe, its seafood imports are mostly from non-European countries (75%) of which 59% from developing countries. In 2020, Germany’s import turnover of seafood from developing countries reached USD 1.4 billion with the main imported products being fish fillets (USD 542 million), processed and preserved fish (USD 402 million), shrimp products (USD 122 million), other crustaceans (USD 223 million) (cbi.eu, 2021).

Meanwhile, Vietnam is a developing country with strengths in producing a variety of seafood, of which frozen shrimp, tuna, and squid are the most exported items to Germany. However, Vietnam's seafood export turnover to Germany in recent years is still limited, not commensurate with the potential of Vietnam’s seafood and the needs for seafood of the German market. Specifically, Vietnam’s export turnover to Germany reached USD 209 million in 2010, however, in the later period it fluctuated and decreased to only USD 189 million in 2019.  In 2020, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the turnover of Vietnam’s seafood export to Germany was only 180 million USD (General Department of Vietnam Customs, 2021).

However, with the implementation of the EVFTA Agreement, Vietnam's seafood will have the opportunity to increase exports to the German market thanks to the following outstanding benefits:

Benefit from tariff reduction

The EU/Germany currently maintains relatively high MFN and GSP tariff rates on seafood products imported from Vietnam. Specifically, Germany’s average MFN and GSP tariff rates in 2021 on Vietnamese seafood products are 11.9% and 7.26%, respectively. In the EVFTA, the EU/Germany committed to eliminate tariffs for seafood products imported from Vietnam as follows:

- 50% of the tariff lines are eliminated at entry into force of the Agreement;

- The remaining of 50% tariff lines will be eliminated after 3, 5 or 7 years;

- Particularly for canned tuna and fish balls, tariff quotas are applied with 11,500 tons/year and 500 tons/year, respectively.

Benefits from Cumulation of Origin

The EVFTA allows the cumulation of squid and octopus originating in ASEAN. Specifically, squid and octopus materials (under HS codes of 030741 and 030751) originating from an ASEAN member that has an FTA with the EU will be considered as originating in Vietnam when determining origin for processed squid and octopus products (under HS codes of 160551 and 160555) exported to the EU (including Germany). Although currently in ASEAN, only Singapore has an in-effect FTA  with the EU, in the future if the EU signs FTAs ​​with  other ASEAN countries where Vietnam also imports a lot of seafood materials such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, Vietnam will also benefit from this cumulation mechanism.

Benefits from protection of Geographical Indication

Of the 39 Vietnamese Geographical Indications that are automatically protected in the EVFTA, there are 02 seafood products: Ha Long Grilled chopped cuttlefish and Quang Ninh Clam. This automatic geographical indication protection under the EVFTA will help the above seafood products when exported to the German market have the opportunity to increase their brand and product value.

EVFTA full text for more information: https://wtocenter.vn/chuyen-de/12778-eu-vietnam-trade-and-investment-agreements 

Source: "Business Handbook: Exploiting the EVFTA  to import and export goods between Vietnam and Germany" - Center for WTO and International Trade