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Article: Vietnamese frozen loins of skipjack tuna to Europe at zero duty

06 August 2020

As published in the Official Journal of the European Union, duties on fillets known as 'loins' (HS 16 04 14 16) will be removed in eight equal annual stages beginning on the date of entry into force of the agreement and thereafter be free of any customs duty. Current Union's Common Customs Tariff basic tax rate is of 24%.

Canned tuna in vegetable oil (HS 16041411) - currently at 24% - and canned bonito tuna (HS 16041490) are duty-free within an aggregated annual quantity of 11,500 tonnes.

Customs duties of skipjack tuna frozen fillets for other uses than processing (HS 03048700) - currently at 18% - will be removed in four equal annual stages beginning on the date of entry into force of this agreement and removed thereafter.

Industry reactions

EU28 imports of prepared tuna from Vietnam last year totalled 12,000 tonnes, representing 2.2% of the total imports from outside the EU-28.

As soon as the EU-Vietnam FTA enters into force, increasing tuna volumes trade between both will also imply increasing competition with the EU itself (canning and fishing industry), ACP countries as well as "the likes of the Philippines," an industry source noted.

Meantime, Thailand "is not in this race anymore because of EU protectionism, evidenced in higher duties on Thai canned tuna and canned pineapple, anti-dumping on canned sweetcorn or barriers imposed on Thai rice. With EU-Vietnam's FTA, it just gives Thailand another tough meat to chew on," the source noted.

A second one added: "Vietnam needs to develop more sanitary regulations, otherwise it will create quality problems."

However, as import duties for tuna raw material (1604) from Vietnam progressively decrease from current 24% to zero over eight years from the implementation of the FTA, all Ecuadorian tuna sources contacted are agreed in their concerns that tuna raw material volumes to the European market will be dramatically impacted.

"It is not only the volume, but also the value of the bulk exported, as the production costs of Vietnam are much more competitive than ours," one stated.

Investments in canneries in Vietnam are ongoing since last year in order to leverage local processing capacity to meet EU demand, an industry source commented.

At the time of writing (June 17), Vietnam is still subject to the yellow card warning imposed by the EU to block illegal fishing loopholes. A team from the European Commission's Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) was scheduled to visit Vietnam from May 25 to June 5 to inspect the implementation of the EC recommendations to fight IUU fishing. Their feedback is expected soon.

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