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Seafood industry ups exports   2008-08-24 - VNS

A trader purchases tra and basa catfish in Khanh Hoa Commune, Chau Thanh District, An Giang Province. In the first seven months of the year, Viet Nam’s seafood export turnover was US$2.4 billion.

In the first seven months of the year, Viet Nam’s seafood export turnover increased by 20 per cent year on year to US$2.4 billion, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP).

Frozen-shrimp export turnover accounted for 32.8 per cent, with tra and basa catfish at 31.9 per cent.

In July alone, processors exported over 136,000 tonnes of seafood, worth nearly $476 million, according to VASEP. This is the highest growth rate for quantity and value in the past three years.

Russia remains a big market for Vietnamese seafood exporters. Last month, catfish export turnover to Russia was up to $38 million, 64 times higher than the same period last year.

Exports to Ukraine doubled against last year to $22 million in July.

Export turnover to the EU, Japan and Souoth Korea also enjoyed growth rates of 17.23 per cent, 41.72 per cent and 23.85 per cent, respectively.

Moreover, the US Department of Commerce recently exempted three Vietnamese tra catfish export and processing companies, East Sea Seafoods Joint Venture Co Ltd (ESS), QVD Dong Thap Food Limited Company (QVD Food Co) and Anvifish Co Ltd, from anti-dumping tariffs, a move expected to boost exports.

If that is the case, this year’s seafood export target of $4.25 billion is realistic, said Nguyen Huu Dung, VASEP standing vice president.

Five seafood exporters in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, Nam Viet Co, Agifish, Hung Vuong, Vinh Hoan and Cafatex Co, will collectively raise export prices 5 per cent to prevent more dumping, according to Luong Le Phuong, Agriculture and Rural Development deputy minister.

The Government is dispatching a working group to Russia this October to promote exports for the Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays seasons.

Thirty seafood factories in Ca Mau Province are speeding up production to meet the province’s target of $600 million in seafood export value, said Ly Van Thuan, general secretary of the Ca Mau Association of Seafood Processors.

Shortage of Capital

However, many in the seafood industry warn that a shortage of capital, electricity and input materials may slacken the expected "acceleration" in the fourth quarter.

Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai ordered the State Bank to release capital to commercial banks so that loans for seafood processors are available.

Hai also required the Viet Nam Electricity Group (EVN) to guarantee a stable power supply for seafood processors. However, 30 processing plants in the south may not have enough raw materials to operate efficiently for the rest of the year because they are threatened by diseases, fisheries exhaust and fuel price increases, according to the Ca Mau Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Debts are preventing many catfish farms from re-starting operations, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Between 20 to 30 per cent of fish breeders are quitting the business, said Pham Van Danh, president of the An Giang Association of Aquaculture and Processing.

Each year, Viet Nam has to import $90-100 million worth of raw seafood materials for export processing.

VASEP proposed MARD continue importing raw seafood materials in order to stay on the year’s target.

"If we spend $1-2 billion a year importing raw material, we can increase our export turnover by $1.8-3.5 billion", said Nguyen Huu Dung.

VASEP also suggested the Government eliminate import duties on raw materials or reduce them to 0.5 per cent to boost Viet Nam’s competitiveness with big movers like China, Thailand, Canada and the US.

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