[hepr-vn] Meat imports to be restricted
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Mon Sep 22 10:57:01 EST 2008
Updated, 09/21/2008, 10:00 GMT
Meat imports to be restricted
Vietnam has imported 118,000 tonnes of assorted meat in the past eight months
and the figure is expected to reach 200,000 tonnes by the end of this year.
Experts warn that if no measures are put in place to reduce imports, the
domestic animal husbandry industry will probably die out.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam
imported assorted meat worth US$321 million in the reviewed period, triple the
amount for all of 2007. Most imported products were frozen cattle meat (buffalo,
cow and sheep), chicken (drumsticks and wings) as well as pork and its internal
organs (hearts, livers and kidneys).
Experts attribute the sharp increase in the import partly to a serious shortage
of domestic supplies caused by the prolonged cold spell and the blue ear pig
disease, which killed 200,000 buffaloes and cows and nearly 300,000 pigs early
Another important reason is that Vietnam slashed import duties to levels lower
than its WTO commitments slated for 2012. When joining the WTO in 2007, Vietnam
was committed to reducing import duties on pig products from 30 percent to 25
percent by 2012. However, the current import duty has already been lowered to 20
percent. For chicken products, the import duty has been cut even further from 40
percent to 12 percent.
Doan Xuan Truc, Director of the Management Board of the Vietnam Animal Husbandry
Corporation, says that the import surplus has caused an imbalance in the
domestic supply of cattle and poultry meat.
Normally, Vietnam imports poultry and cattle products, such as beef, for supply
to restaurants and hotels. However, Mr Truc says, similar domestic products
cannot compete against those high-quality and expensive imports. The country
also imports by-products such as drumsticks, wings and legs of chickens and
hearts and kidneys of pigs and buffaloes, which are not used by export
countries. Due to low import duties, a kilogram of imported US chicken costs
just VND14,700 in Vietnam which is much cheaper than that of domestically raised
Dr Nguyen Dang Vang, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for
Science, Technology and Environment, explains that Vietnam has lowered duties on
the import of large quantities of poultry and cattle products with the aim of
stabilising the domestic market and reining in inflation.
“Given the fact that the domestic market prices have been kept under control,
the import should be restricted, otherwise, the domestic animal husbandry
industry will die out in the long run,” warns Mr Vang.
He says that if the import surplus is maintained, about 1 million people will
lose their jobs and 1.2 million children and elderly people in rural areas will
fall into poverty. Once the gap between rich and poor is widened, it will lead
to an increase in social instability.
“We have no choice but to raise the import duties to our committed levels and
use technical barriers to protect domestic production,” says Mr Vang.
At a national conference in Hanoi on September 17, delegates shared the view
that an import restriction is the best solution to keep the domestic animal
husbandry industry alive.
However, MARD Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong said that it is difficult to set up
technical barriers because Vietnam’s farming practices remain poor compared to
other countries, which have a developed husbandry industry and strict
regulations on food hygiene and safety.
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