Local exporters will have to cope with more non-tax trade barriers while other countries try to limit imports and protect production as the global economic recession continues.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Danh Vinh said trade remedies would be diverse and nuanced as importers impose more barriers relating to quality standards, export subsidies, products’ origins, and food hygiene and safety.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, said the demand for seafood in major markets like the EU, the US and Japan has recently increased.
Vietnam raked in US$3.1 billion from seafood exports in the first seven months of this year, soaring 26.1 percent over the same period last year.
However, rapid export growth could run up against trade barriers from importers, he said. For example, Vietnam’s tra fish exporters have been accused of failing to meet food hygiene and safety standards, polluting the environment, and selling their products too cheaply.
Vietnamese tra fish is facing the risk of an anti-dumping duty tax of 35 percent in Brazil. Brazil has applied stricter import procedures since February to limit imports of the fish from Vietnam. It now takes Brazilian firms 60-120 days to receive licenses to import Vietnamese tra fish. Earlier, they needed only three days to do so.
Meanwhile, other markets are strengthening monitoring antibiotic residues in imported seafood. Japan began to check 100 percent of shrimp imported from Vietnam on June 9.
Hoe said Vietnam should strictly control the use of antibiotics in seafood production and processing.
Seafood is not the sole item threatened by trade barriers.
The Trade Remedies Council at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned that the US may consider applying anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese wood interiors used for bedrooms.
Vietnam now is the second largest exporter of such items to the US, after China. The country’s earnings from shipments of wood products to the US rose to $1.56 billion in 2010 from only $321.6 million in 2004.
Meanwhile, the EU requires that businesses selling timber to the market for the first time must conduct a due diligence test to minimize the risk of illegal timber imports.
Secretary General of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association Nguyen Ton Quyen said the tests are too expensive for many companies.
Barriers have been thrown up against Vietnam’s footwear exports too. Although the European Commission has decided to end anti-dumping taxes levied on Vietnamese leather-upper shoes from March 31, it will continue to monitor Vietnamese footwear imports for one more year.
Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, secretary of the Trade Remedies Council, said Vietnamese companies should cooperate more with international investigative agencies. She also urged firms not to sign shipment contracts at low prices, and not depend too much on one market.
According to the council, Vietnam faced 36 anti-dumping lawsuits, mainly relating to footwear, seafood, and industrial products, from 1994 to July 2010.