Vietnamese industrial salt has a higher price than imported salt, even when transport fees and duties are included. For this reason firms have imported salt to save money, said Pham Tat Thang, a trade expert.
The State should offer support by giving loans and technological support to salt farmers in order to enable the local salt industry to develop and meet local as well as export demands, he said.
He added that the State should have policies to encourage local firms to purchase all salt from local farmers and enterprises where possible.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has given quotas on importing industrial salt to three local enterprises for manufacturing and production in the chemical and healthcare sectors.
The quota was 20,000 tonnes of industrial salt for the South Chemical Ltd Company, 10,000 tonnes for Viet Tri Chemical Joint Stock Company and 21,000 tonnes for Vedan Vietnam Ltd Company.
The ministry said the refined industrial salt it permitted the local enterprises to import is the result of a deficit in the local supply.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said by the end of October, the national raw salt inventory from farmers and local enterprises stood at 118,146 tonnes.
The ministry also said many foreign food firms in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the US have imported Vietnamese raw salt in order to refine it.
Ngo Tan Ban, former leader of the Vietnam Salt Corporation said that many foreign firms imported high volumes of Vietnamese raw salt for production purposes.
Ban said the production of industrial salt needs considerable investment. He believes the State needs to support farmers by providing support for both input capital and for upgrading manufacturing equipment.
Last year, Vietnam exported a total of 20,500 tonnes of salt to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the US, MARD said.
The Thanh Hoa Salt Company alone sent 554 tonnes of salt to the US and Japan. The company expected to export 600 tonnes of salt to the two markets this year and to expand its exports into other foreign markets.
Central Thanh Hoa province exports 4-5 containers of raw salt monthly, while southern Bac Lieu province, which is the largest salt producer in Vietnam, recently signed a partnership to export high quality raw salt to Japan.