Vietnam asks Cambodia to reverse catfish import ban

Vietnam is calling on neighboring Cambodia to reconsider its recent ban on imports of catfish, which includes pangasius from Vietnam.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries on 8 January announced a decision to suspend imports of four catfish species, including pangasius, from neighboring countries to protect local farmers, according to a statement from Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Following Cambodia’s move, the Vietnam ministry has met with officials from Vietnamese provinces bordering Cambodia and relevant seafood exporters to discuss the situation. The ministry learned of Cambodia's action only after catfish cargoes exported through Khanh Binh Border Gate in Vietnam’s An Giang Province failed to get through customs clearance in Cambodia and were sent back to Vietnam, it said. 

Vietnam Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh sent a letter to Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak to express his concern over Cambodia’s ban. He said the measure will place negative impacts on businesses in both countries, and Cambodian customers in particular. The import ban also goes against the spirit of trade liberalization set out by the World Trade Organization and the ASEAN Economic Community, where both countries are members.

In response to Vietnam’s objection, Sorasak held a meeting with Cambodia Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on 29 January to discuss a reconsideration of the ban, the Vietnam ministry said.

Vietnam exported seafood products worth about USD 52.8 million (EUR 43.5 million) to Cambodia in 2020, up 10.7 percent from USD 47.7 million (EUR 39.3 million) in 2019, Vietnam’s customs data showed. 

The Khanh Binh Border Gate is the main gateway to Cambodia for seafood from Vietnam, with the shipping volume of about 500 metric tons (MT) per day, Vietnam’s Tuoi tre Online reported on 15 January.

The main reason for Cambodia’s ban is that the average price of farmed catfish from Vietnam sold in Cambodia is VND 18,000 (USD 0.78, EUR 0.64) per kilogram, much lower than VND 30,000 (USD 1.30, EUR 1.10) per kilogram offered by Cambodian traders for domestic product, the newspaper said.

Photo courtesy of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers


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