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Vietnam seafood exporters push free trade agreements
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By James Wright, Senior Editor

Vietnam seafood exporters are arguing for 0 percent duties on seafood imports to boost the competitiveness of the sector that is increasingly dependent on imported raw materials to meet global demand.

The country spends about USD 800 million (EUR 699 million) annually to imported unprocessed seafood, 80 percent of which is unprocessed shrimp, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) told the Saigon Times. Vietnam’s main shrimp suppliers are Ecuador and India.

Import tariffs range between 10 to 15 percent for shrimp, 12 to 24 percent for tuna and 10 to 17 percent for squid and octopus, said VASEP, which has proposed a 0 percent duty to the Ministry of Finance.

The newspaper quoted VASEP market analyst Nguyen Thi Bich saying Vietnam is the world’s top shrimp exporter, generating USD 3.95 billion (EUR 3.46 billion) in revenue last year, more than India (USD 3.7 billion; EUR 3.24 billion) China (USD 2.5 billion; EUR 2.19 billion) and Thailand (USD 2 billion; EUR 1.75 billion).

This year overall seafood exports are moving at a fast clip, with USD 1.4 billion (EUR 1.23 billion) earned through the first quarter of this year. Top markets include the United States (19.1 percent), Europe (18.4 percent) and Japan (14.1 percent).

VASEP is pointing to a free-trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea (8.76 percent of seafood exports so far this year) as a signal of success for the sector. The FTA, signed 5 May 2015, will create an advantage for shrimp from Vietnam when it goes into power next year. Shrimp exports to South Korea are steadily growing, and it is now Vietnam’s fifth-largest market for shrimp.

Vietnam is negotiating multiple FTAs, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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