Material supply is getting shorter and shows no sign of improvement.
In the first 10 months of the year, Viet Nam’s seafood export turnover reached 5 billion dollars, an increase of 22 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year. It is highly possible that the export turnover would reach the record level of 6 billion dollars by the end of the year.
However, the worrying thing is that in order to obtain higher exports, Viet Nam needs to import much more materials.Material imports on the rise
According the General Department of Customs, the seafood material imports in the first 10 months of the year was half as much again the imports in the same period of the last year-about 417 million dollars. Materials were imported from 70 countries and territories, mostly shrimp, fishes and cuttlefish.
VASEP has also reported that importing seafood raw materials for domestic processing has become more popular, which has made a big contribution to the seafood export growth.
Viet Nam imported 200 million dollars worth of seafood materials in 2008, while the figures rose to 250 million and to 300 million dollars in the next years, accounting for 3-5% of the total export turnover. Especially, the import turnover is expected to reach 500 million dollars this year, when domestic processing factories face serious material shortage. The figure represents 10 percent of the total export turnover.
In fact, the increases in material imports are foreseeable. The decreasing caught fisheries volumes, the polluted farming environment, both have led to the serious shortage of materials and the heavier reliance on material imports.
Nguyen Van Hoa, General Director of Saigon Food, one of the biggest seafood raw material importers, said that it is indispensable to import materials, because the domestic output cannot meet the demand for materials to fulfill export contracts.
In fact, Vietnamese fishing boats still can catch the aquatic species, but they are always very expensive. Therefore, it would be better for processing companies to import raw materials than collecting from domestic sources.
“We have been importing materials for domestic processing for the last five years, with the import volumes on the rise year after year,” Hoa said.
He went on to say that in 2011, the domestic supply just can meet 20 percent of the demand, and Saigon Food plans to import 10,000 tons, the volume big enough to create jobs for its 500 workers. Viet Nam will export more if importing more
Seafood companies complain material imports are being imposed high tax rates. Seafood raw materials such as oysters, clams, snails, mussels, octopus, shrimp and marine fish, for example, are bearing the import tax rate of 18%, and farmed shrimp 30%.
Importing raw materials is harmless to domestic fisheries if Viet Nam only imports the
products which are not the advantages
As the material supply is getting shorter, while there has been no sign of improvement for the time to come, VASEP believes that it is now the right time to think of importing materials for processing, the thing that is also occurring in China and Thailand.
“Three or four years ago, we only imported 4,000-5,000 tons of sea fish and shrimp, while we now need hundreds of tons,” said Tran Van Linh, Director of Thuan Phuoc Company in Da Nang City. “If we do not import materials, the processing factory worth millions of dollars, and hundreds of workers will sit idle”.
Dr Nguyen Huu Dung, Deputy Chair of VASEP, stressed that importing seafood materials is an unavoidable and that is harmless to the domestic fisheries. Viet Nam only imports the products which are not the advantages of the domestic production. Meanwhile, the import will create more jobs and make money.
According to Dr Dung, if removing the import tax, enterprises would import 1-2 billion dollars worth of materials a year, which would help increase the export turnover by 1.8-3.5 billion dollars. If so, the export turnover of 7-8 billion dollars will be within the reach.
By HOANG BAY
Compiled by NT.