Tra fish prices bounce back after long slump
After keeping costs low for so long, tra fish prices shot up recently, yielding higher profits for farmers.
Processors buy the fish for VND22,000-VND22,500 (US$1-1.02) per kilogramme, an increase of VND4,000 since early March.
This allows farmers to earn profits of VND2,000-3,000 per kilogramme.
The Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta has more than 6,000ha of tra fish farms, mainly in the provinces of Dong Thap, Ben Tre, An Giang, Vinh Long, Can Tho and Tien Giang.
With prices below break-even levels, many farmers incurred big losses and stopped raising the fish.
The remaining farms belong mostly to companies and farmers that have contracts with enterprises.
Thus, the increase in prices only benefits a modest number of independent farmers.
Nguyen Ngoc Hai, director of the Thoi An Seafood Co-operative in Can Tho, said the number of tra fish farmers without contracts account for less than 10 per cent.
Contracted farmers may only make small profits, but they are stable and not affected by price volatility.
Dang Van Ngon, a farmer in Thoi An Commune in Can Tho, said he has had a contract with a tra fish processing firm for a few years and has earned steady profits of VND1,500-2,000 per kilogramme.
While it does not offer high profits, it is a sustainable model based on mutual benefit, he said.
"I signed contracts to breed 300 tonnes of tra fish in our two ponds."
According to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters, tra exports in the first two months of 2016 were worth $237.3 million, a year-on-year increase of 5.6 per cent.
The US and EU were the key markets, accounting for 40.5 per cent of the exports, it said.
The Viet Nam Competition Authority said that according to a US Department of Commerce decision, the US's anti-dumping rate on tra fish fillets imported from Viet Nam between August 2013 and July 2014 was $0.41-$2.39 per kilogramme.
Accordingly, the two compulsory defendants, Hung Vuong Corporation and Thuan An Production Trading and Service Co, Ltd, will now have to pay duties of $0.41 and $0.97 per kilogramme, respectively.
The rates are a bit higher than the DOC's preliminary decision in January of $0.36 and $0.84.
The tax imposed on 14 other voluntary defendants was $0.69.
In addition, a national rate of $2.39 remains applicable to other companies exporting tra fish fillets to the US.
Both compulsory and voluntary defendants have to pay a deposit on their exports this year at the tax rate stated in the DOC's final decision.
An exporter said the high anti-dumping tax is causing difficulties for Vietnamese firms in exporting the fish to the US.