Cassava exports increase but trade agreements are not exploited

VIETNAM, May 20 –

Việt Nam’s cassava exports are increasing but the industry has not taken advantage of free trade agreements. — Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Cassava Association

HCM CITY – Việt Nam exported 235,000 tons of cassava and cassava products worth $105.01 million in April, up 10.8% and 31.7% in volume and in value year-over-year, according to the General Department of Customs.

Since the beginning of the year, exports exceeded 1.19 million tons worth 517.17 million dollars, unchanged in volume and up 16.7% in value.

China bought almost everything.

Nguyễn Như Cường, Director of the Plant Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, “The heavy dependence on the Chinese market leads to passivity and unsustainability of exports.

Vietnamese companies face fierce competition from Thai, Cambodian and Lao companies in global markets, he said.

According to the Import-Export Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, China will have even more demand for cassava and cassava products this year and will import more from Việt Nam due to geographical proximity.

But with the new regulations and standards issued recently by that country’s customs agency, exports would face many difficulties, he said.

Vietnam’s cassava industry has not benefited from free trade agreements, he added.

For example, under the EU-Việt Nam free trade agreement, tapioca starch is the second product benefiting from a duty-free quota after rice, at 30,000 tons per year, while the export tax on tapioca starch is otherwise 166 euros per ton. But few Vietnamese companies have taken advantage of this huge tariff advantage to boost exports to the bloc.

Nghiêm Minh Tiến, permanent vice-president of the Vietnamese Cassava Association, said that to reduce the risk of “putting all eggs in one basket”, a number of members have sought to promote exports to markets like Belarus, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Middle East and Africa.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the association are exploring ways to improve the quality of cassava for export, especially to the EU, he added.

Cassava is mainly grown in the provinces of Gia Lai, Tây Ninh and Phú Yên. —VNS

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