Record high tariffs threaten Vietnam's pangasius exports to US

By Vu Minh   March 19, 2018 | 07:40 pm PT
Record high tariffs threaten Vietnam's pangasius exports to US
Two Vietnamese workers move pangasius fish into buckets for transport to a processing plant in An Giang Province in southern Vietnam. Photo by Reuters
The U.S. has decided to slap its highest ever anti-dumping tariffs on shipments of the fish from Vietnam.

Vietnam’s pangasius exporters are facing higher tariffs of shipments of the fish to the U.S. market following the completion of an anti-dumping investigation by the Department of Commerce, a senior agricultural official told local media.

The department has decided to apply a tariff of $7.74 per kilo on products from the two companies that were the subject of the investigation, while other exporters face a fee of $3.87 per kilo, the highest tax the U.S. has ever imposed on Vietnamese pangasius.

According to exporters, the rate of $3.87 per kilo is almost equivalent to the export price of Vietnamese pangasius in the U.S.

Truong Dinh Hoe, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), told local media on Monday that Vietnamese businesses will not be able to afford the tax and may have to suspend exports to the U.S.

Vietnam lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) last month to challenge U.S. restrictions on imports of pangasius products from Vietnam.

The complaint said pangasius exports are economically significant for Vietnam and a healthy and affordable source of protein for U.S. consumers, but that the U.S. was unfairly restricting them without a sufficient scientific basis.

Under WTO rules, Vietnam could ask for adjudication if the U.S. does not settle the dispute within 60 days.

The U.S. has been the biggest importer of Vietnamese pangasius in recent years, but strict regulations on quality and food safety, especially a catfish inspection program that was launched in August last year to check the fish from the farm through to processing and shipment, have repeatedly created a bumpy road to the U.S. for Vietnamese exporters.

Vietnam made $1.78 billion from exporting pangasius fish last year, up 4.3 percent against 2016, but its earning from exports of the fish to the U.S. dropped 11 percent to $387 million, said VASEP.

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