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Vietnam shrimp exports fall into muddy waters
Publication Date : 04-01-2013
Shrimp exports could top US$2.4 billion in 2013 if the problems of last year, like diseases and raw-material shortage are overcome, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep) said.
Truong Dinh Hoe, Vasep general secretary, said shrimp exports were worth around $2.25 billion last year, a year-on-year decrease of 6.3 per cent.
It was the first time the sector had failed to meet the export target which had been set at $2.4 billion, he said.
The industry had faced many challenges in both the local and foreign markets, he said.
A slowdown in demand in traditional markets had caused a sharp fall in shipments to the EU, the US, Asean, and Canada, he explained.
Besides, Japan, the largest market for Vietnam's shrimp, had reduced the maximum permissible limit of Ethoxyquin residues to 0.01ppm, severely hitting Vietnamese firms' exports, he said.
Ethoxyquin is a substance used in the preservation of fishmeal (a main ingredient in animal feed), and most countries in the world apply a maximum residue limit of 77-150 ppm.
Le Hang, deputy director of Vasep's Centre for Training and Trade Promotion, told a conference held in HCM City last week: "The early mortality syndrome (EMS) disease damaged many shrimp farms areas, causing a severe raw material shortage."
The disease and high input costs had pushed up production costs, making Vietnamese shrimp products less competitive than that of Indonesia, India, and Ecuador, she said.
Processors had to import raw shrimp costing an estimated $170 million from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, conference participants said.
Hang added: "Raw material imports will surely increase if diseases are not controlled."
Tran Thien Hai, Vasep chairman, and many other delegates agreed that the country has to find ways to ensure stable supply raw shrimp, failing which exports would plunge.
Tran Van Linh, general director of Thuan Phuoc Seafoods and Trading Corporation based in Da Nang, urged the shrimp industry to "restructure production and establish shrimp breeding industrial zones with public investment to create a sustainable raw material source".
Other delegates said high prices of shrimp feed was also a reason for higher production costs.
Domestic firms only produce fish feed, leaving the shrimp feed market to foreign firms. The latter is nearly three times more expensive than fish feed.