On behalf of Clearwater Seafoods, I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to present on this important issue. This year marks our company's 40th year in business—40 years of sustainable seafood excellence and trade. Clearwater got its start in international trade with a single truckload of Nova Scotia lobster being sold into Boston. Today we sell Canada's finest seafood around the world in over 30 countries.
We see free trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a critical element of our future success. I would like to offer our congratulations to the federal government on their demonstrated leadership in strengthening trade relationships that make our local economies stronger.
By way of introduction, Clearwater Seafoods is a leading global provider of premium wild-caught shellfish. We were founded in 1976 and are now North America's largest vertically integrated processor-distributor of premium shellfish. We are one of Canada's largest holders of shellfish quotas and licences in Atlantic Canada, and we are one of Canada's only publicly traded fishing companies. We own state-of-the-art factory vessels with frozen-at-sea processing technology, and we have advanced on-shore processing, storage, and distribution capabilities. We employ approximately 1,400 Atlantic Canadians in coastal communities across Atlantic Canada.
Clearwater has extensive global sales, marketing, and distribution platforms. As I mentioned, we currently have sales in over 30 countries, and approximately one-third of our business is in Asia.
In 2015 we had approximately $150 million worth of sales into countries that are party to the TPP agreement. Excluding the NAFTA countries, U.S. and Mexico, sales to TPP countries amounted to $72.4 million. Japan alone accounted for almost 14% of Clearwater's sales in 2015.
Clearwater has always been a supporter of reducing trade barriers around the world. In 1976, when we first opened for business, we were a small lobster distributor with a local retail outlet and wholesale export business into the Boston seafood market. Over the next few years Clearwater pioneered the concept of extended live storage and air shipments of live lobster into Japan and Europe.
Clearwater is experienced at opening and developing foreign markets for Canadian seafood products. We have recently supported the ratification of the Canada-EU trade agreement, and we regularly participate in trade shows around the world, including in Asia, to develop our relationships with our customers and build global markets for premium Canadian seafood.
In terms of the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to seafood generally, the Canadian seafood industry relies on export markets for our success. Our oceans have an abundance of resources that far exceed the demand for seafood in Canada. If you look at the Statistics Canada estimates, the value of the Canadian domestic seafood exports was approximately $6 billion in 2015. Asia-Pacific countries are very important markets for Canadian seafood products. In 2015 the estimated value of Canadian seafood exports to TPP countries was approximately $400 million, representing close to 8% of Canadian seafood exports. Of this, Japan accounted for $261 million, and Vietnam $106 million, making these countries the most important TPP markets for Canadian seafood.
In Japan, seafood imports account for more than 50% of domestic seafood consumption; however, tariffs can be quite high, and in some cases are as high as 15%. The TPP will eliminate two-thirds of these tariffs, and all of them will be removed within 15 years. This is a very important element for increasing our trade relationship on seafood with Japan.
In Vietnam, imports account for only 8% of seafood consumption currently, leaving significant room for growth. Consumption is also expected to increase by about 8% between 2016 and 2020. In Vietnam, tariffs can be as high as 34% on Canadian seafood products. With the TPP, 83% of these tariffs will be reduced to zero immediately, and all will be eliminated within 10 years.
Coming back to the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for the Clearwater business, Clearwater competes globally for market share, and tariffs—