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Vietnamese Ministry Cries Out Against Catfish Duties

by the Fish Site Editor
25 June 2009, at 1:00am

VIET NAM - The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has issued a statement voicing its strong opposition against the US International Trade Commission (ITC)s decision to continue imposing anti-dumping duties on imports of Vietnamese tra and basa catfish for another five-years.

Deputy minister Le Danh Vinh speaking with Vietnam News Agency regarding the decision reiterated that Vietnamese businesses did not dump their fish in the US market at unfair prices.

All decisions on anti-dumping duties that US agencies have issued since 2002 to date "have not reflected the actual conditions of production and trade of tra and basa fish imported from Viet Nam", Vinh said.

"Once again, the MoIT requests that the US consider abolishing this unjust and discriminatory tax, as it goes against the fundamental principles of the WTO, of which both Viet Nam and the US are members," Vinh said.

The ITC on June 15 determined that revoking the existing antidumping duty order on certain frozen fish fillets from Viet Nam would likely lead to the continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable period. The decision was part of the five-year (sunset) review process required by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.

The US has imposed the anti-dumping tariff for Vietnamese tra catfish fillets since 2002 with an average rate of 66.34 per cent.

"This decision would surely produce adverse impacts to the tra and basa fish breeding and processing industries in Viet Nam, and it will reduce the competitiveness of its exports," said Vinh.

He also said that the decision would impose limits on the range of choices for US processors and customers in terms of both price and type of product.

In the context of the global economic crisis, the decision by US agencies to uphold anti-dumping duties "goes directly against US President Barack Obama’s call to not move backwards, and to not re-build the walls of protectionism", continued the official.

Apart from retaining the anti-dumping duties, the US was considering putting Vietnamese tra and basa fish in the same category as US bred catfish.

"If this new regulation is applied, it will amount to a new level of protectionism, against exports of Vietnamese tra and basa catfish into this market, under the guise of a technical barrier, which is even higher than what came before," Vinh concluded.

Earlier, Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development along with the chairman of the Viet Nam Fisheries Association, Nguyen Viet Thang, expressed their opposition to the ITC’s decision.

"Keeping the tariff was an unreasonable decision," said Phuong, adding that "the decision will damage Vietnamese farmers and also US enterprises and consumers".

Thang voiced his protest against the ITC’s decision, saying "this will cause difficulties for both Vietnamese businesses and fish breeders".

At present, the fisheries sector plays an important role in Viet Nam’s economy. It netted an export value of US$4.5 billion in 2008, of which $1.5 billion was from tra and basa catfish.

Vietnamese exporters remain optimistic about doing business in other markets, including Russia, Spain and Egypt, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Export Producers. Vietnamese exporters have already expanded their export markets to some African countries, Brazil and Mexico.

The EU remains one of the biggest export markets for tra catfish, accounting for half the countries export value, according to the association. Vietnamese catfish is exported to 128 countries in the world.

the Fish Site Editor