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Fishery Exports Increase

VIET NAM - Viet Nams total production value of agro-forestry-aquaculture this year reached VN$ 220,000 billion (US$ 12 billion), an increase of nearly three per cent against last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The export value of those products was estimated at $15.3 billion.

The chief of the ministry’s Information and Statistics Centre, Nguyen Viet Chien, said although the value was 7 per cent less than last year, it surpassed the $12 billion annual target set by the ministry and the $14 billion target set by the Prime Minister.

Farm produce still makes up the largest proportion of the exported products, followed by aquaculture, then forestry.

According to the ministry, the global economic downturn was the reason behind the sharp reduction in demand from key overseas markets.

As a result, though the amount of exported rice reached a record of 5.8 million tonnes this year and its turnover was $2.6 billion - 22.7 per cent up, the profit dropped by 10 per cent, largely due to the world’s fluctuated rice price.

The price of exported timber products declined too.

Nguyen Ton Quyen, vice president and general secretary of the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association said the demand for timber products in the EU markets fell by 30 per cent this year, and in the US, 10 per cent.

Difficulties

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Luong Le Phuong said agro-forestry-fishery exports would face more difficulties next year.

Mr Phuong explained that besides the fact that many importers would adopt stricter control on food safety and hygiene, many new regulations and codes are due to take effect.

The regulations include the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), the US’s Farm bill, and the EU’s Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) regulation.

The inconsistent quality of several Vietnamese products increases the chance of losing some export markets. Quyen provided one example that even though the US lists 200 chemicals it prohibits from use on it’s timber imports, many companies in Viet Nam are still unclear about this regulation.

The FLEGT Action Plan which will take effect in 2011 requires all timber products exported to the EU to have a permit from authorities verifying their origins.

The complication of the timber importing acts in Viet Nam, however, makes it very difficult for products to comply with this law. Not every country that exports timber to Viet Nam follows the regulations and provides the neccesary documentation.

The US Farm bill and the EU’s IUUF regulation which both take effect tomorrow, require all fishery products exported to the US and EU to have proof of legal exploitation. All of these documents have to be approved by local authorities before the products are shipped.

Deputy Minister Phuong said that Vietnamese products would not be able to make a breakthrough if the quality was not improved to meet international regulations.

"The government need to have a complete legal framework, a policy to subsidise enterprises and to tighten the relationships among business associations and government offices," said Phuong.

"We need to focus on products that have been our strengths in the past (rice, coffee and cashew) and keep expanding overseas markets," he said.

The agricultural production process needed to be effective and sustainable, he said. The Ministry would also categorise plants in groups in order to improve the quality and the competitive capacity of products

the Fish Site Editor

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