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Export Struggles Hit Vietnamese Seafood Sector

VIETNAM - Since early this year, the Vietnamese seafood sector has seen its growth at a five-year record low. By the end of July, seafood exports only reached US$2.16 billion, down by nearly 9.5 per cent.

Tran Ngoc Yen from the Information Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agroinfo) said that the global economic downturn has resulted in a sharp fall in seafood exports.

According to VOV News, In the first half of this year, turnover fell by 8.6 per cent for filleted fish and by 7.6 per cent for shrimps and crabs compared to the same period last year. Therefore, earnings during the reviewed period dropped by 8.1 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.

According to Agroinfo, there has been a sharp decline in orders from large markets such as Russia, Italy and the Netherlands, over the last seven months while the US and China’s seafood imports have soared by 16 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively.

Despite being the country’s top export earner of US$600 million, Tra and basa catfish exports dropped by 3 per cent.

In addition, the seafood sector is facing tough competition with tariffs and trade barriers such as anti-tra and basa catfish campaigns in Italy, Spain, the US, Egypt and France. Apart from that, the US continues to impose anti-dumping tax rates on Vietnamese tra and basa catfish.

As of January 1 2009, the EU has also enforced an illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing law on Vietnamese seafoods.

Under the law, businesses, which have certificates for operation in territorial waters and have registered the names of their fishing boats, are allowed to export their products to the EU market.

The re-opening of the Russian market for Vietnamese tra and basa catfish imports in May 2009 helped to increase seafood exports. However, Vietnamese seafood businesses still find it difficult to penetrate the Russian market due to its tariffs.

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has worked with the relevant associations and businesses to cope with trade barriers by establishing a steering committee for tra catfish production and consumption in the Mekong River Delta region. In addition, a bar code has also been set up to improve the value of tra catfish.

According to experts, the best way forward for businesses is to maintain their traditional markets and upgrade their human resources to seize new opportunities after the financial crisis is over. However, the big problem for businesses is how to increase the value of seafood products.

the Fish Site Editor

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