Vietnam slams US tariff hike on fish, denies dumping

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Tra fish farmers in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. Photo courtesy of Nguoi Lao Dong

The Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson has called the US's recent decision to hike anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese fish products "unfair," saying Vietnam has never dumped seafood in that country.

Luong Thanh Nghi, speaking at a ministry media briefing on March 21, said it is "not fair or objective" for the US to hike the duties by many times on frozen tra fish fillet.

"We have repeatedly assured that Vietnamese businesses do not dump frozen tra fish fillet or other seafood in the US market.

"We believe the trade relations between the two countries should be conducted based on World Trade Organization regulations for the mutual interest of the countries' businesses and consumers."

The new duties, announced on March 14, are up to dozens of times the existing ones at US$0.77-3.87 per kilogram after the US Department of Commerce replaced Bangladesh with Indonesia as the third country to calculate costs for the Vietnamese freshwater fish products.

Vietnamese seafood authorities and producers have pledged to take the US to court, saying that Indonesia is socially and economically different from Vietnam, and its fish breeding industry is not similar to Vietnam in terms of either method or scale.

Indonesia imports rather than exports frozen tra fillet, they pointed out.

The industry said the new duties are aimed at protecting US producers, whose breeding area almost halved to 33,000 hectares last year while their country became the second largest importer of tra from Vietnam with shipments of nearly $359 million.

In the first two months of this year the US accounted for $33.7 million or 17 percent of Vietnam's tra exports.

But the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said the new duties would also be a blow to US consumers since they have to pay more for the fish.

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