|Basa fillets are processed at Song Tien Seafood Corporation. The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers has pledged to help its members to boost exports. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HCM CITY (VNS)— The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has promised its members that it will help them increase export volume for the rest of the year.
Speaking at a VASEP meeting in HCM City yesterday, General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that seafood firms were facing several problems, including a shortage of raw materials, a drop in overseas demand and high input costs.
Technical barriers set by importing countries have also created problems for exporters, he told the meeting that was organised concurrently with the 15th anniversary of the association's founding.
Nguyen Hai Trieu, director of Gio Moi Company, noted that shrimp exporters a few years ago "faced raw material shortages for two to three months, but in recent years, that has increased to five months or more."
Shrimp demand in the US and EU has dropped, while the depreciation of the Japanese yen has adversely affected consumption of imported seafood in that country, according to Trieu.
"Input costs also keep increasing, reducing the competitiveness of Vietnamese seafood products," he said.
Hoe said VASEP would conduct research on the status of raw materials in an effort to develop more sources in a reasonable way, and maintain a balance between supply and demand.
It will also co-operate with agencies and institutes to deal with diseases that affect shrimp rearing, he said.
In addition, the association has mapped out programmes to promote brand-building for the industry, he said.
Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Vietnamese seafood quality was high, meeting the requirements of choosy markets like Japan, the EU and the US.
To enhance quality management of input, he said the ministry would issue official documents to manage brood-stock quality and the use of several substances in aquaculture.
Tam suggested that seafood firms should focus more on producing items with high added value, and build their brands as well.
He urged seafood processors to link up with farmers to make high-quality products that meet both local and international standards.
The ministry plans to work closely with VASEP to solve difficulties related to trade barriers set by importing countries and to help businesses expand their export markets.
Tam praised VASEP's efforts in the past years, saying that it had greatly contributed to the development of the country's seafood industry.
VASEP, which was founded n 1998, has received yesterday the Second-Class Labour Medal from the State President for its contribution to the socio-economic development.
Dao Thien Hai, VASEP chairman, said Viet Nam grew to become the fourth-largest seafood exporter in the world.
In recent years, the seafood industry has increased its exports by an average of 13 per cent a year, with products now available in 150 countries and territories, he said. In the late 90s, it exported to only 50 countries.
The seafood industry earned US$6.1 billion from exports last year, and is hopeful of achieving the export target of $6.5 billion this year. Seafood exports reached $2.28 billion in the first five months of the year, down 2.6 per cent over the same period last year. — VNS