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Vietnamese tra fish exports to China, U.S., EU to fare well: officials

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CAN THO – China, the United States and the European Union are likely to remain the main consumers of Vietnam’s tra fish (pangasius) products for the next five years, making up a staggering 65% of the Southeast Asian country’s total exports, stated officials.

Despite many fluctuations, the three markets remain sustainable in terms of the volumes and revenues of Vietnamese tra fish exports, according to Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

China, the United States and the European Union have long been among the top three buyers of Vietnamese tra fish products based on earnings, remarked Hoe.

He added that local tra fish producers have been able to satisfy more stringent requirements for food quality and safety for the three markets.

The recognition of the Vietnamese tra fish industry’s equivalence by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is evidence that Vietnam meets U.S. standards, he pointed out.

Also, the long-awaited free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union, better known as EVFTA, which will soon go into effect, will put Vietnamese tra fish at a distinct advantage on the European market over the next five years, noted the official.

The tariff on Vietnam’s frozen tra fish fillet shipments to the European Union will fall to zero from the current 5.5% in the next three years, stated Tran Dinh Luan, head of the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries, at a conference in the southern province of An Giang last week.

Luan said it will take some seven years for Vietnam’s processed tra fish fillet products to have their export tariffs lowered to zero from the current 7%.

The trade pact serves as a catalyst for growth, which will open up ample opportunity for Vietnamese tra fish processors to establish a foothold in the European market of some 508 million people with a gross domestic product value of roughly US$18 trillion, he added.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is also poised to be a promising market for Vietnamese tra fish products until 2025, according to VASEP General Secretary Hoe.

He explained that the 2018-2019 period had seen positive growth in tra fish exports to the ASEAN, with 2018 surging by 41.5% from a year earlier to reach US$202.6 million.

Last year saw a slight decline of 3.6%, but the ASEAN market still ranked fourth, at US$195.4 million, behind China, the United States and the European Union.

Brazil and Middle Eastern countries are predicted to be major consumers of Vietnamese tra fish in the years to come as well. However, technical bottlenecks and barriers need to be resolved.

For example, Brazil is a potential market for Vietnam’s tra fish exporters to South America, but the past two years saw declines in earnings.

Brazil expects Vietnam to open its doors for its agricultural products, such as beef and cantaloupe, according to the official.

He pointed out that Brazilian authorities have thus set higher technical barriers for Vietnamese exporters compared with those from the United States and the European Union to slow down the growth of Vietnamese tra fish products.

“Brazil only accepts tra fish products without any additives,” noted Hoe.

He explained that this requirement alone has already hurt Vietnamese tra fish processors as it drives up the prices of their finished products, making it harder to attract customers.

By Trung Chanh

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