Finding direction for tra fish exports

Tuesday, 2018-01-02 11:50:12
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The tra fish farming area of An Giang Fisheries Export and Import Company.
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NDO – According to Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), by the end of November 2017, the total revenue of Vietnam's tra (pangasius) fish exports reached US$1.62 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5.3%.

However, the tra fish exports to major markets, such as the US and EU, are steadily declining, contrary to the high growth in the Chinese market.

Falling in major markets

According to preliminary statistics of the General Department of Customs, the export value of tra fish to the US reached US$319.7 million by the end of November, down 9.7% over the same period last year. Meanwhile, the revenue to the EU was US$180.107 million, an annual decrease of 22.1%. Especially, the country’s tra fish exports to Spain witnessed a decrease of over 70%in the first ten months of this year and is expected to be lowered to around 6-%-75% this year.

The cause of the sharp decline in the US and EU markets was technical and financial barriers. For example, results of its administrative review (POR9) for anti-dumping duties on tra fish fillets imported from Vietnam reduced the number of Vietnamese exporters to this market. So far, more than 60 enterprises have registered to export tra fish to the US, but in fact there are now around ten businesses exporting their products in small quantities. In addition, the enterprises had to face technical barriers since August 2, 2017 when all shipments of catfish imported from Vietnam were inspected under the US’s Farm Bill, causing damages to both cost and time.

In the EU, Vietnam’s tra fish exports recorded a sharp decline due to the overwhelming competition from the white fish from other countries in the region. Meanwhile, the cause of the decrease in the Spanish market was the ‘shock’ of the media crisis from the beginning of 2017 with bad information about Vietnam’s tra fish.

Facing difficulties and challenges in the US and EU markets, Vietnamese enterprises have shifted their focus to China as its demand of tra fish increased with many segments. In the first eleven months of this year, the total revenue of tra fish exports to this market reached US$373.350 million, accounting for 22.9% and up nearly 40% over the same period last year.

Efforts to diversify the market

The high growth in tra fish exports to China is praiseworthy, particularly in the context of the US and EU markets raised many technical and trade barriers. However, VASEP has warned that exports to China are risky due to lack of the stability in customs, quarantine and quality requirement in this market.

In order to stabilise tra fish exports in 2018, it is essential for enterprises to diversify their markets as soon as possible. In fact, in 2017, businesses have moved flexibly to several other markets, including Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Specifically, in 2017, the revenues of tra fish exports to these three markets reached US$93.8 million, US$93.2 million and US$50.2 million, year-on-year increases of 69.2%, 21.9% and 7.1%, respectively.

However, VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that relevant agencies and enterprises should make efforts to regain growth in major, traditional and high-quality markets, including EU and US.

Along with shrimp, tra fish is the main export product of Vietnam's fisheries sector. Tra fish exports faced many barriers in major markets last year; therefore, enterprises should give cqreful consideration towards improving their products’ quality, building their brands and promoting the image of Vietnamese tra fish to customers in the coming. In addition, Vietnam’s tra fish industry needs to enhance its restructuring from the area planning and production to processing and consumption to meet the increasingly strict requirements of import partners.