Could FTA Overturn Vietnam’s Crashing Tuna Export To The EU?
 Vietnamese firms are hoping the pending Free Trade Agreement with the European Union can overturn the country’s deteriorating exports, according to a report by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Tuna processors have lost a quarter of its export of canned tuna to the European Union in the first half of this year, based on Eurostat data. A total of 5,116 M/T has been shipped to the EU, representing a 26 percent decline from last year’s 6,898 M/T. Germany, the biggest market for canned tuna in the EU, had the sharpest decline in volume from 3,811 M/T in 2017 to 3,248 M/T in 2018.

Once the agreement is set, the Southeast Asian nation is expected to speed up exports with the removal of import taxes on seafood products, with an annual quota for duty-free imports of 11,500 M/T of canned tuna. Additional volume will be taxed fully at 24%.

The FTA also puts Vietnam in advantage over its competitors Thailand and China, as neither country has successfully made free trade deals with the EU. The approval for the FTA is slated for the end of this year.

However, sealing the deal may not be that simple as Vietnam currently holds a “yellow card” status due to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This has negatively impacted exports as the country struggles to meet the EU’s demands of enforcing active measures to eradicate illegal fishing activities.

Despite domestic exporters’ efforts to meet the EU’s IUU requirements, VASEP reports that the lack of experience in conducting inspections in the field, as well as exporting products sourced from multiple localities and ships, remains a problem.

The removal of the “yellow card” status would offer Vietnam a chance to rectify its IUU-related activities within a reasonable timeframe.

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