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Free trade to boost seafood exports

Update: March, 19/2013 - 08:51

HCM CITY (VNS)— The Viet Nam-EU Free Trade Agreement is expected to increase the volume of Vietnamese seafood exports to the EU, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Speaking at a conference in HCM City last week, Vasep General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said the EU, with its 27 members, is an important market for the Vietnamese seafood industry.

Last year, the seafood industry earned US$1.13 billion from seafood exports to the EU, accounting for 18.5 per cent of the country's total seafood exports.

"Negotiating for the free trade agreement is very important, since the FTA will help reduce tariffs at the maximum level on Vietnamese seafood products, making Vietnamese seafood more competitive," he said.

Currently, Vietnamese seafood exports to the market still enjoy the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which provides developing countries preferential access to the EU market through reduced tariffs.

However, with Viet Nam's economic development, GSP on certain products will be reduced in the future. Therefore, "FTA will help open a new opportunity for the seafood industry," he said.

He called on local companies to be aware of technical barriers when exporting and to further improve their product quality. Otherwise, the industry would not be able to enjoy the many benefits of the FTA.

The EU has many trade regulations, including a regulation against illegal fishing.

Local enterprises involved in the seafood industry in the past time have made efforts to raise their product quality to meet EU requirements.

For instance, 103 pangasius farming, or 40 per cent of the country's pangasius farming, have received certificates for sustainability development.

Around 50 pangasius plants have obtained Global GAP certificate, accounting for half of the country's total pangasius plants.

Fourteen companies have received Aquaculture Stewardship Council certificates for sustainable development and 25 others have registered for the ASC programme, he said.

Seafood exports reached a record $6.1 billion last year, following a rise of 21 per cent, exceeding the target of $5.7 billion, the association reported.

The industry ranked fifth among leading export earners after textiles and garments, crude oil, footwear and electronics. — VNS

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