With nearly half of its seafood exports going to Trans-Pacific Partnership member nations, Vietnam expects the trade deal to further boost exports to these markets, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep).
|Fish products are processed at Ngo Quyen Processing Export Company in Chau Thanh district, Kien Giang province. (Photo: VNA)|
Speaking at a seminar titled, “TPP – Opportunities and Challenges to Vietnam’s Import-Export Activities” in HCM City last week, Truong Dinh Hoe, Vasep General Secretary, said last year seafood exports to TPP countries were worth US$3 billion or 46 percent of the country’s total.
The US and Japan were the two largest importers, with a total value of more than US$2 billion last year, he said.
When the TPP takes effect, Vietnamese seafood exporters would benefit from the deal, which seeks to reduce or eliminate 90 percent of import taxes, raising the country’s competitiveness vis-à-vis other exporting nations, he said.
For instance, Japan, the second largest buyer of Vietnamese tuna after the US, has for a long time imposed higher taxes on Vietnamese products than on those from other ASEAN member countries.
Argentina, Ecuador and India, the other main exporters to Japan, do not have a free trade agreement with that country, he said.
The TPP would make Vietnamese shrimp more competitive in the US than that from Argentina, Ecuador, India, Thailand, the Philippines or Indonesia, enabling Vietnam to significantly increase exports to the country, he said.
When the TPP comes into force, export tariffs would be slashed to zero percent, creating an incentive for seafood firms to invest in their value chain from farming to processing and export, bringing them higher economic value, he said.
Vietnamese processors, who face a raw materials shortage, also expect to import them at cheaper rates once the TPP takes effect, he said.
But to enjoy the export tariff benefits, firms must meet the strict requirements related to origin of products, he said.
Besides, the seafood sector would face challenges as Vietnam integrates, including more trade barriers and anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits, he warned.
In the past decade the sector has developed to become one of the country’s key industries.
Vietnam ranked third globally in seafood production after China and India and fourth in seafood exports (after China, Norway and Thailand).
The country has 612 seafood processing factories meeting national hygiene and food safety standards, including 461 that meet EU market standards.
Seafood exports were worth US$6.57 billion last year and are expected to top 7 billion USD this year, Hoe said.