Vietnamese seafood: Overcoming antibiotics residues for entering global market

The biggest hurdles that Vietnamese seafood faces are not short supply, tough competition. It is antibiotics usage which is the biggest trouble.

 “Outdated” tax system

Artificial propagation of Vietnamese pangasius was successful since 1990s, made guarantee a certain volume of fingerlings available to fish farmers. Since then, Vietnam aquaculture sector grow rapidly, and pagasius has been sold at supermarkets all over the world. It was the first time Vietnamese pangasius and shrimp enterprises being aware of anti-dumping and countervailing tax since being imposed by the US market. In fact, although living in an increasingly global world, all countries from rich to poor, in Asia, Africa or US, Japan, have their own system to protect domestic markets. So, anti-dumping / countervailing duties are the tools to protect domestic market of the US.

However, Vietnamese pangasius and shrimp has not been kicked out of the market, but gained more reputation. The volume of export to the US market shows an even higher growth rate. So, which challenge will strongly impact on Vietnam seafood export? It is technical barrier to trade, food safety and antibiotics resistance.

Challenge in antibiotics abuse

Many Vietnam agricultural products, including Vietnamese seafood have been received warnings about containing antibiotic residues and refused by many importers.

Russia previously suspended pangasius import from Vietnam as the shipment did not meet its food safety standards. During that time, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development promptly took action. Finally, Vietnam pangasius came back to Russia but the economic loss not only shown by contract number but the reputation damage.

Duong Ngoc Minh, General Director of Hung Vuong Corporation said that Russia is a promising market for Vietnam pangasius when it accept both white and yellow meat pangasius fillet (fed by maize) which being refused by other markets. But Russia government ordered seafood firms strictly follow the food safety regulation stipulated by Russia.

Besides, Japan – a traditional and one of three key shrimp markets of Vietnam, has never applied anti dumping measures on Vietnam shrimp products like the US market to protect domestic industry. The Japanese safeguard measures are technical barrier such as level of antibiotic residues in seafood, especially shrimp. According to NAFIQAD, Japan has often issued a number of warnings about antibiotic residues in seafood in excess of permitted levels.

However, it seems to be unfair when Japan has reduced the maximum level of antibiotic residues to a very low level comparing with average level of other nations like US or EU. Vietnamese exporters have not had an opportunity to update its control of antibiotic residues to comply with Japanese’s new regulations, said one shrimp exporter not like to be quoted by name.

When tariffs in general are not a big issue, importing countries will perceive technical barrier as necessary means to protect domestic industry and their public health. So, Vietnamese seafood firms must improve the quality of production with more transparency before going abroad.

>>“Antibiotic abuse will pose serious challenges to Vietnam seafood industry; especially shrimp sector. If this situation continued, it would be the true business enterprises and also trade marks of agricultural and seafood products that would be affected “ – Minh Phu Seafood Corp.

Tieu Kieu

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