Nguyen Huu Dung, vice chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), deemed it inappropriate that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development heavily focuses on supervising the processing stage while cultivation and exploitation is left neglected.

Speaking at a working session between VASEP and Agriculture minister Cao Duc Phat in HCM City on Monday, Dung stressed while international-standard quality management systems are applied to processing plants, many shortcomings are found in the farming stage, such as the overuse of antibiotics and injection of impurities into materials.

"We should get familiar with the overall production chain management in order to avoid poor-quality products. Processing cannot be separated from cultivation and export," he highlighted.

Notably, the number of enterprises investing in a closed production chain of tra fish is getting bigger. Also, more firms have joined hands with material fish supplying groups.

Dung said 70 percent of the export tra fish are produced under the two aforesaid models, which help reduce the quality risks.

Minister Phat said the agriculture ministry would take measures to create the most favourable conditions for local enterprises to maintain their grips and develop in the export markets.

The ministry will enhance production chain management, and categorise enterprises based on their quality management capabilities, thus boosting control on tSTC with poor management, Phat emphasized.

The Saigon Times Daily - February 23, 2012

Seafood processors in a fix

Seafood exporters are facing numerous difficulties, including a shortage of working capital, a fall in overseas demand, and high costs of quality inspection.

At a meeting in HCM City on February 20, the chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Tran Thien Hai, warned that this year would be the most difficult ever for seafood firms.

The ongoing economic crisis might lead to a decline in global seafood demand, and importing countries would impose stricter food hygiene and safety requirements.

He predicted that demand in the EU market for high-price items like shrimp and tuna would fall, and payment would be slower than before.

Truong Dinh Hoa, VASEP general Secretary, said a shortage of raw materials continued to be a headache.

Last year the country spent more than $500 million on importing raw seafood for processing exports.

Tra fish output continued falling as neither companies nor farmers had the money to invest in farming, he said.

Many shrimp farms had to reduce their investment on account of high input costs, he said.

Duong Ngoc Minh, director general for Hung Vuong Seafood JS Company, said seafood firms needed more working capital, but banks tightened controls on lending.

He said many also complained about higher costs for inspection of export consignments as it usually takes at least 7-10 days.

Vietnam Investment Review - February 23, 2012