Tra export value rises, firms cautious hinh anh 1Tra fish processing chain at the ​Hung Ca Co Ltd’s factory in Dong Thap Province. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The export of tra (catfish) is still facing difficulties although exports for January-September hit 1.3 billion USD, up 5.8 percent over the same period last year, said the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

However, values declined in two important markets, the US and Europe.

Specifically, exports to the US reached 258.3 million USD, making up more than 19.8 percent of total exports and down 9.9 percent year-on-year.

In the European market, in August and September, exports fell by 8.4 percent and 23.7 percent respectively over the same period in 2016. By the end of September 2017, European exports accounted for only 11.8 percent of total exports.

Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Pangasius Association Vo Hung Dung said in the meantime, the export value to the Chinese market was growing. A VASEP report showed that the total value of catfish exports to China and Hong Kong was more than 288 million USD in the first nine months of this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 42 percent.

Dung, who is also Director of  the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s branch in the southern province of Can Tho, said although the Chinese market was a breakthrough, there were still worrying signs, so the industry had to concentrate on big and fastidious markets such as the US and Europe.

"If we lose in these two markets and focus on the Chinese market, the risk will increase," Dung warned.

To ensure stable export, Dung said that the association had recently introduced tra fish products to Japan. If successful, it could lessen the risk of relying too much on Chinese demand.

According to the association, after the US decided to inspect 100 percent of Vietnamese tra fish shipments in August, it has imposed an anti-dumping tax of 2.39 USD per kilogramme of Vietnamese frozen fish fillets during the 13th administrative review (POR13), three times higher than the single tax rate in the POR12.

Dung said the US Farm Bill, which came into effect in 2016, states that catfish exports fall under the jurisdiction of US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is more concerned with anti-dumping duties.

He said that the anti-dumping tax on Vietnamese catfish had affected most tra fish exporters. However, a few processors with top quality fish had been allowed to pay low tariffs, including Vinh Hoan, Bien Dong and Nam Song Hau.

Under the Farm Bill, all shipments of Vietnamese catfish to the US must be placed in US-designated storage for quality inspection before customs clearance. This costs time and money.

Director of Bien Dong Company Ngo Quang Truong said if  Vietnamese wanted to export to the US, they must accept the difficulties.

“(However) the current price of tra fish product in the US market has increased to about 4 USD per kilo. This is an opportunity for enterprises to increase exports to this market through improving quality and exercising good farming, processing and marketing practices,” said Truong.-VNA