Robust action to defend tra exports

09:28 | 14/09/2010

Vietnam is about to take official action against foreign misinformation about one of its billion-dollar export items.

The local seafood sector is regularly called on to defend its products

“We have submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), which will then combine with relevant ministries and agencies to send official proposals to Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture and relevant agencies asking them to correct misinformation about Vietnamese tra fish,” said a representative from MARD’s Department of Agro-forestry and Fisheries Product Processing and Trade and Salt Industry.

“The Brazilian side has made incorrect information about Vietnam’s tra fish,” said department head Le Xuan.

In mid-August, Brazil’s Ministry of Fisheries asked the country’s Agriculture Ministry to put made-in-Vietnam tra fish into Brazil’s Importation Threat Analysis programme, in which the fish would be temporarily banned. This was because the fish was said to be farmed in unsafe environment and not met strict food hygiene and safety standards.

Prior to that, Brazil’s National Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture asked the country’s government to curb Vietnamese tra fish from being imported into Brazil to protect its fishery industry.

Brazil is not a big tra importer of Vietnam, but it is a gateway for the fish to go to many other South American markets. In this year’s first half, Brazil imported over 5,800 tonnes of tra fish from Vietnam, worth $11.9 million.

“There are some problems with Vietnam’s tra fish exports to Brazil. We are studying the situation [of the Brazilian move] and then will issue feasible measures,” said Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of MARD’s National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department.

According to Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), tra is raised in floating farms that meet international standards like SQF1000 and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). Vietnam now exports its tra fish to over 120 countries and territories.

Moreover, all the country’s tra fish shipments had for years been put under supervision in line with the international hazard analysis and critical control point standards and other screening processes by local quality assurance agencies, VASEP said.

It is not the first time misinformation about Vietnam’s tra fish has been disseminated. Since 2007, many of Vietnam’s foreign seafood importing markets made inaccurate claims about the fish to protect their domestic fisheries production.

For example, between 2007 and now, Egypt, Italy, France, Belgium, the United States, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and Russia spread misinformation about the quality of Vietnam’s basa and tra fish, which occupy 32 per cent of the fisheries industry’s total export turnover.  However, these markets resumed imports after good farming methods and quality was proved by the Vietnamese side.

In 2010’s first seven months, Vietnam exported 362,000 tonnes of tra fish with a turnover of $776.8 million. In 2009, the country’s export turnover of the fish was $1.34 billion.

Thanh Tung

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