By mid April, 2018, total pangasius exports to the US has reached USD 91.8 million, up 26.1% y-o-y, accounting for 17.7% of total pangasius export value. Up to now, exports to the US still maintain the positive y-o-y growth rate.
Currently, Vietnam and China are two only sources of catfish to the US. In which, Vietnam accounts for 90% of catfish imports to this market. Notably, in previous years, China mainly exported basa and catfish fresh or chilled (HS code: 030432) to the US but in 2017, China started to boost the exports of frozen catfish fillet (HS code: 030462) with total value of USD 37.2 million. Average basa and catfish prices imported from China were high, at USD 6.77/kg while those from Vietnam averaged at only USD 3.42/kg.
As of now, Vietnam’s export value to the US is on the rise due to domestic raw material prices increased by VND 5,000-6,000/kg versus last year. Export prices to all markets have mounted up, including the US. However, this market’s antidumping duty and inspection program for Siluriformes fish, including catfish have built up the entry wall for pangasius exporters.
Export prices of pangasius fillet 5-7 oz to the US (2016-2018, USD/lb) – Source: Urner Barry
Recently, in March, 2018, two US Senators contacted Mr. Robert Lighthizer – The US Trade Representative, requesting his support in cancellation of the Siluriformes fish inspection program amid Vietnam files for WTO complaint. On March 19, 2018, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) sent a letter to Robert Lighthizer, pointing that the USDA’s Siluriformes fish inspection program would hamper the agricultural trade with Vietnam. Vietnam is currently the 10th largest agricultural export market of the US. McCain and Shaheen asked for Lighthizer’s support in cancelling the program before the 60-day consultation period with WTO. In February, Vietnam has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), calling US pangasius inspections unfair.
In Q2.2018, prices of pangasius exported to the US are expected to increase slightly versus 2017, although the number of Vietnamese exporters to this market is merely 3.