Minimum export and procurement prices for tra catfish will be set at the beginning of next year to help both breeders and processors avoid losses, says a senior official.
Duong Ngoc Minh, Deputy Chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said at a meeting held on Tuesday that the US market would be excluded from the above arrangement.
The meeting heard that exports of the tra fish are not likely to meet this year's target of US$1.5 billion because of declining prices and orders.
In the first nine months of the year, 472,586 tonnes of the fish worth $1 billion were exported, and the remaining half a billion cannot be managed in the remaining three months, the association said.
Minh said at the meeting that, normally, the quantity of tra fish exported between July to October was higher than the previous months of the year.
But the trend was reversed this year because export orders during this period fell compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, export prices of tra fish, including to the US market, had fallen since early this year to record lows.
The situation was exacerbated by the US imposing an anti-dumping tariff of 130 per cent on Vietnamese tra fish, and several other markets had also set up technical barriers to limit imports.
Several countries including Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, had also developed tra fish breeding with financial support from their governments, adding to market supply.
VASEP estimates the value of tra catfish export this year to reach about $1.37 billion.
From the beginning of 2011, minimum export and procurement prices would be set for tra fish, excluding the US market, Minh said.
For other markets, a minimum export price of $2.8 per kilo would be set while breeders selling the fish would earn a minimum price of VND20,000 ($1) a kilo.
"The regulation on floor prices aims to bring the price of tra fish to its true value and ensure profits for both breeders and processors, "Minh said It would also help avoid unhealthy competition which leads to reduction in export prices and affects the quality of tra fish products, he said.
The purchase price of tra fish is now VND18,500 ($0.9) per kilo and the average export price is $2.7 per kilo.
At Tuesday's meeting, VASEP also petitioned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to add tra fish to the list of products subject to conditional exports.
This would require processors to meet certain criteria to be able to export tra fish, including having an export contract for six months and more, and having their product quality registered and inspected. World demand for trafish is now increasing as the supply of China's tilapia and the Philippines' tuna have been declining due to inclement weather. However, domestic output of tra fish has been low because about 30 per cent of breeders have abandoned their ponds this year after suffering severe losses from falling prices. In this situation, seafood processors have said they are likely to face a shortage of raw materials next year.
They estimate tra fish output at 1 million tonnes next year while they have a total processing capacity of more than 2 million tonnes.