November 17, 2018


Vietnam pangasius exports to US on upward swing



The trade war between the US and China is working to the advantage of Vietnam, especially when it comes to seafood, particularly tra fish or pangasius, the country's exporters said.


The export of tra fish to the US has sharply surged by 42.9% to US$369.1 million in the first three quarters compared with the same period last year, the Vietnam News Agency reports. This, despite barriers hindering US imports of Vietnamese pangasius.


One of these barriers has been the implementation of a new food safety inspection procedure in late 2017, which led the Vietnamese authorities to file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation that the regime constituted an unfair trade practice, as per Globefish, the FAO's fish-trade site.


Globefish noted that in fact Vietnamese exports of pangasius started to trend upward in 2017.

Not only has Vietnamese pangasius exports to the US increased but also to China, to which exports increased 45% in the first quarter this year, reaching $101 million as prices increased.


While exports to China increased by 45%, the ASEAN region also saw its imports of Vietnamese pangasius increase by 56.5% in the first quarter, led by Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The ASEAN bloc has also overtaken the EU in terms of market share, and on its current trajectory it will overtake the US in a few years, said Globefish.


The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has set a target of $2 billion in pangasius export revenue this year, of which some 25% is expected to come from Chinese sales.


Target unlikely to be attained


In the first quarter of the year Vietnam has already exported pangasius worth $440 million based on VASEP reported figures. If this figure remains steady or constant for the rest of the year, this target may be hard to attain.


According to Globefish, this export revenue target for pangasius this year would require a total production of 1.3 million tonnes of fish, marginally above last year's 1.25-million-tonne production.


But total pangasius production growth is expected to be low or flat in 2018, Globefish added.


Vinh Hoan, a leading firm in catfish processing and exporting, said that if the US imposes tax on tra fish and tilapia products from China, the company would have more opportunities to occupy the market share in this large market.


With the taxation imposition on Chinese goods exported to the US, Vietnam's processed and fresh seafood will have a competitive advantage in this market, the pangasius processor said.

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