China emerges as biggest importer of Vietnam tra fish

China overtook the U.S. as the largest importer of Vietnamese tra (pangasius) fish in the first quarter of this year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

The period saw tra fish exports to the Chinese market soaring a hefty 56.8% year-on-year to US$69.7 million, accounting for 19% of the sector’s total export sales. Meanwhile, revenue from tra shipments to the U.S. declined 24.3% to US$61 million, 16% of the total.

Even though many Vietnamese enterprises export tra fish to the U.S., only two seafood processors, Vinh Hoan JSC and Bien Dong Seafood Co Ltd, enjoy low tariffs, according to the association’s general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe.

Another reason, he said, is American customers might have consumed tra fish inventories in the period. Besides, the rising domestic price of unprocessed tra fish, U.S. trade barriers and other factors were attributable to the fall in tra shipments to America, he added.

Meanwhile, he said, the local companies which had difficulty finding their way to the U.S. market shifted to exporting to the northern neighboring country. As a result, quarter one saw a steep rise in tra exports to China.

He said local tra fish exporters should be careful with their dealings with Chinese traders, especially via informal channels.

Meanwhile, tra exports to the European Union dropped a sharp 21.5% compared to the same period last year at US$49.9 million, representing 13% of the total.

He ascribed the fall to a smear campaign against the quality of Vietnamese tra fish and the volatility exchange rate between the euro and the U.S. dollar.

But shipments to Brazil rose a whopping 70% year-on-year at US$35.5 million, 10% of the total.

Export turnover of this sector in quarter one rose 1.6% against the same period of 2016 at US$371.3 million.

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