Duong Ngoc Minh, head of the Russian Market Seafood Management Board has said, that the Russian market would need far more Vietnamese pangasius as its government plans to ban the import of fish from Norway, Chile, China and Canada in July to review production at these sources as it did last year with Vietnamese fish. The opening of several markets, especially Russia, means that experts may have been wrong when they said pangasius exports would decline on shrinking international demand, officials said. The outlook for pangasius, or Vietnamese tra fish, should not be nearly as pessimistic as expectations voiced earlier this year, he said
The Russian market has been consuming more Vietnamese fish and needed nearly 10 times more than its 7,500 tons of fish imports from Vietnam so far this year, he said. Russia lifted a ban on the import of pangasius from Vietnam in April. The measure had been introduced last December for quality control purposes. Exporting to Russia brought higher profit ratios than the European and US markets, but Moscow’s requirements were in fact less strict, said Minh.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors, which oversees Minh’s board, has said the demand for fish fillets in new Eastern European, African and Latin American markets was growing. So far this year, Vietnamese exports were fourfold higher to Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania, tenfold to Argentina and nearly twofold to Mexico year-on-year, said the association. Shipments to markets like the EU and US remained similar to numbers from the first half last year. Minh said the country had exported US$1.2-1.3 billion pangasius in 2009, compared to the $1 billion forecast by the association early this year. He forecast pangasius exports would increase through the end of the year.
Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said increases could help ease the minds of farmers who were worried about hiking feed costs. The government has singled out pangasius as the country’s key seafood product and provided assistance to local farmers and processors, Phuong said. Phuong said the ministry has been helping farmers implement microbe technology to treat water in farming pools as a way to improve export quality.
Vietnam exported $477 million pangasius in the first five months, 4 percent less than the same period last year. The total accounted for 35 percent of the country’s $1.4 billion in export revenues during the period, according to the association.The fish reached its highest export earnings ever, $1.4 billion, last year.