|Farmers harvest tra fish in Dong Thap Province's Thanh Binh District. 2014 was the third successive year that the export value of tra fish stayed around the $1.7-billion mark. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS)— The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has requested the government to delay implementing Decree 36/2014/ND-CP on pangasius farming, processing and exporting for the domestic tra fish industry.
Under the current plan, the decree will go into effect this year, said a ministry official. To comply with the decree, exporters of tra fish will be forced to cap ice and moisture at 10 per cent and 83 per cent of the total weight of the product respectively.
However, the industry still has tra fish fillets in storage that have not met these regulations, so the decree should not go into effect in 2015, the ministry pointed out.
According to reports from export tra fish processors, post September 12, 2014, some 364,067 tonnes of tra fish fillets did not meet the new regulations on ice and moisture.
At present, the concerned authorities have arranged for 11 delegations to work at enterprises serving the industry, with orders to gather statistics on the volume of tra fish fillets that did not meet regulations by December 31, 2014, reported the Voice of Viet Nam.
Enterprises in the industry could not defrost and recycle the tra fish fillets in time to meet the deadline because these activities would not ensure the quality of the exports and would lead to heavy damages for the enterprises, the ministry said.
The enterprises need to consume these tra fish fillets over the course of this year. Therefore, the decree should be effective from next year, the ministry proposed.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said the decree would improve the quality of tra fish fillets for export as well as the competitive ability of enterprises in the future, adding that it would help enterprises meet international standards of quality and requirements related to the origin of products.
The latter was especially important if Viet Nam signs free trade agreements with foreign partners in the future, he noted.
Tra fish exports
Viet Nam is etimated to maintain an export value of US$1.7 billion in 2014 for its tra fish, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Tra fish exports cannot recover in the early months of this year in large export markets.
The association pointed out that 2014 was the third successive year that the export value of tra fish had fluctuated around the $1.7-billion mark.
Tra fish exports began recovering in June 2014 and continued to rise over the rest of the year in markets such as Southeast Asia, Mexico and China, with small export volumes. Meanwhile, tra fish exports faced an ongoing decline in the two largest markets: the European Union and the United States.
Tran Van Linh, VASEP Vice Chairman, said the current difficulties had resulted partly from the uncontrolled expansion of the tra fish breeding area in previous years.
The slow growth of key catfish markets posed another challenge to the sector's exports, which were already struggling with the shrinking profits caused by the low-price trend, Linh claimed.
Moreover, exports were also affected when tra fish enterprises began working to restructure themselves to further improve the reputation and value of their fish products, Linh added.
The United States' continued preference for Indonesia as a reference country in calculating tax levels for Viet Nam was a major disadvantage for local companies, given the differences in conditions, production scale and input costs between the two countries.
The tra fish sector has to compete against supplies of other white-flesh fish such as cod and tilapia, according to VASEP.
In 2014, the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta reserved 5,500ha for farming tra fish, which produced 1.1 million tonnes of fish.
Vietnamese tra fish products have been shipped to 150 countries and territories across the globe. — VNS