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Seafood Assoc Calls for Drop in RM Import Duty

VIET NAM - The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) is proposing a cut in import tariff on raw materials (RM) to boost seafood exports.

VASEP has called on the Government to 'rescue' the seafood industry by lowering the tariff on material imports for domestic processing, according to official sources.

VASEP's deputy chairman, Nguyen Huu Dung, said that Vietnam needs to import materials in big quantities to feed domestic processing factories. There are some 700 seafood processing factories now in Vietnam, while the domestic sources can provide only 50 per cent of the total materials needed.

Therefore, Mr Dung said that the government should lower the tariffs or apply the zero-tariff scheme on material imports, the thing that has been applied in other regional countries already.

Mr Dung said that it is understandable for Viet Nam to protect the local farming of black tiger shrimp and catfish (tra and basa). However, it is reasonable to impose tax on the fishes caught on the sea or farmed salmon, while these kinds of products should be imposed zero per cent.

He has proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) the introduction of a tariff reduction on seafood material imports at the National Assembly's upcoming session, emphasising that this is the necessary solution to rescue the seafood industry.

VASEP has predicted that the total export revenue of seafood in 2009 will reach US$ 4.2 to 4.3 billion, a decrease of five to seven per cent over 2008.

Meanwhile, MOIT has reported that Vietnam's has exported $3 billion worth of seafood products over the last nine months, down by 9.6 per cent over the same period of the previous year.

However, the ministry hopes that the exports will be improved in the last months of the year, since the exports to some traditional markets like the EU, Japan and the US tend to increase again. The export revenues to the US – mostly tra and basa fish – were $530 million, while the revenues to Japan were $574 million.

Besides, the door to Japan's market will be widened when the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA) takes effect on 1 October. It imposes low tariffs on Vietnam's exports to the country. The import tariff of Vietnam's shrimp will be lowered to between one and two per cent.

Recently, Spain – the biggest consumer of Vietnamese tra and basa in the EU, importing 400,000 tonnes per annum – has recognised that Vietnam's seafood products can meet the EU's requirements on food hygiene.

Phan Van Chinh, Director of the Import-Export Department under MOIT, said that Vietnamese seafood exporters can target three big markets in the last three months of the year, including South Korea (which consumes 7,300 tonnes shrimp per annum), Russia (which mainly imports tra fish) and Japan, which consumers tra and basa, cuttle fish and crab.

the Fish Site Editor

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