Foreign agricultural export opportunities in Vietnam are bright. Vietnam’s textile, leather, and furniture sectors continue to grow and expand; infrastructure continues to improve; and the number of supermarkets, hotels, and resort communities continue to rise. Although Vietnam is currently a net exporter of food, particularly seafood and fresh-water fish, as incomes continue to increase in this fast-growing Asian economy and per-capita arable land is low, even by Asian standards, the demand for protein, especially livestock and aquatic products, is likely to significantly increase. Increasing incomes should also lead to a more diverse diet for many Vietnamese, thus increasing demand for many foods and drinks not yet readily available or locally produced.
Vietnam is the largest importer of foreign cotton with $253 million worth of imports. Vietnam has a rapidly growing and vibrant textile industry, largely based on imported raw cotton or synthetic fiber. Textiles continue to be one of Vietnam’s top foreign exchange earners, with an estimated $11.2 billion in exports in 2010, which is a year-on-year increase of 23 percent. Local cotton production currently meets less than 10 percent of total demand.
The current Vietnamese import duty for cotton lint is zero percent.
Source: Vietnam Statistic Office, Vietnam General Customs Department
Data from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) shows that domestic milk production grew 6.1 percent from 262,160 tons in 2008 to 278,190 tons in 2009. Local milk production is projected to continue to increase due to the growing demand for fresh milk. With the projected dairy cow herd in 2010 and the current average milk yield, dairy production in 2010 is expected to reach 316,800 tons.
Seventy eight percent of Vietnam’s total annual dairy demand is imported; mainly from New Zealand, the United States, the European Union, and Australia.
Current import tariffs on most dairy products range from 0 percent to 10 percent.
Soybean Meal and Soybeans
Vietnam’s imports of soybeans and soybean meal rose significantly over the last five years in response to lower tariff rates (as a result of WTO commitments) and increased demand from the food processing, livestock, and aquaculture feed sectors. Expectations are that the demand for soybean meal (SBM) will continue to increase, particularly given that Vietnam does not yet have industrial-scale crushers to produce SBM locally.
Vietnam’s imports of SBM illustrate the shortage of protein sources in the country. Despite the government’s efforts, growth in oilseed production has fallen far short of fulfilling the country’s protein needs. Under the current tariff structure, SBM has zero import duty, unrefined oil has a 5 percent duty, refined oil has a 15 percent duty, and soybeans enjoy a reduced tariff rate of zero percent for imports from WTO member countries. The reduced tariff rate for soybeans may make crushing plants a more attractive investment in Vietnam. In that case, soybean imports could increase considerably.
Vietnam has three deep-water ports, including Phu My-Ba Ria Serece port and the Cai Mep Interflour port - both located on the Thi Vai River of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province (about 30 miles, but a two hour drive) from Ho Chi Minh City); and Quang Ninh port in Cai Lan, Quang Ninh Province. Unlike the ports in Ho Chi Minh City, these ports can handle big vessels (50,000+ tons). With the latest expansion in late 2010, the Cai Mep Interflour port should be capable of receiving Panamax-sized 75,000 DWT vessels, which will lower freight costs and therefore make it more competitive for foreign commodities (wheat, soybean meal, soybean, corn (maize) to be shipped to Vietnam.
As Vietnam still has no large-scale crushing facility, most of the soybeans are used for food processing (soymilk beverages, tofu, soy flours, soy sauce, and is used for full-fat soy meal (for feed industry). Reportedly, Vietnam has two soybean crushing plant projects under construction, one in the southern Vietnam with a capacity of 3,000 tons of per day and one in northern Vietnam with a capacity of 1,000 tons per day. The two projects are expected to come online in the second or third quarters of 2011. With these crushing plants, the Vietnamese demand for soybeans will likely be much higher in the coming years
Vietnam Market / Soybeans
Corn and Corn-by products
While the Vietnamese domestic agricultural industry is trying to increase corn production to satisfy the fast-growing feed industry, there is strong competition from imported corn, whose pricing is often more competitive. Price is one of the most important factors influencing feed manufacturers to switch from using locally produced to imported corn. In 2009 and 2010, due to both the increased demand of the local feed industry and local corn prices increasing sharply, the demand for imported corn to increased substantially. As a result, import volumes increased to 1.49 and 1.36 million tons, respectively.
As a result of investments in new mills, Vietnam is moving swiftly from being a wheat- flour to a wheat-grain market. Present milling capacity is estimated at 2.1 million tons per year. Compared to "wealthier” neighboring countries, per-capita wheat consumption in Vietnam is low. However, given the prospects for increasing incomes in this fast- growing economy, demand will likely increase, particularly since Vietnam does not produce wheat, but nonetheless has a strong culture of consuming bread, cakes, and other wheat products.
Vietnamese imports of wheat in 2010 increased sharply due mainly to competitive prices for low quality wheat, which is used mainly for the feed industry. The current import duty is 5 percent for wheat 10 percent for wheat flour in 2011.
Prospects are bright for foreign exports of hardwoods and other forest products to Vietnam.Current import duties for lumber, logs, and veneer are zero percent.
Hides and Skins
Vietnam is among the 10* largest exporters of footwear products. In 2010, Vietnam’s exports of footwear and other products (bags, suitcases, hats, belts) reached $5.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of 25 percent. Vietnam will try to maintain the growth rate for the footwear sector at 10 percent over the next two years 2011-2012 (note: the annual growth rate for footwear exports in the 20022008 period was about 15 percent). Recent market reforms have led to sharp increases in investment in Vietnam’s leather industry, as Vietnam’s low wage rates and efficient labor force make it quite competitive. There are about 25 tanneries in Vietnam, which produce over 150 million square feet of leather. This in turn has led to steep rise in hides and skins imports in recent years.
Vietnam’s imports of hides and skins in 2009 and 2010 are estimated at $250 million and $380 million, respectively. The drop in 2009 was due mainly to the recent Vietnamese government campaign to inspect all tanneries for potential harmful effects on the environment. The current import duty on hides and skins is zero percent.
Vietnam imports many fruits, including apples, table grapes, oranges, pears, cherries, of which apples and table grapes make up the biggest part of these imports. Imports volumes of other fruits are much smaller. Current import duties on apples and table grapes are 12 percent. In keeping with its WTO commitments to reduce import tariffs, Vietnam should gradually lower tariffs on grapes and apples to 10 percent by 2012.
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