Vietnamese exports of aquatic products to the United States (US) grew from 21,682 tonnes in 2000 to 241,245 tonnes in 2016. Catfish—primarily coming from the Mekong Delta region—comprises approximately half of this export volume. The Mekong Delta increased its aquaculture production by 226 percent between 2000 and 2016. The annual value of US imports of Vietnamese catfish is over $300 million and they hit a record high monthly volume of 15,855 tonnes in July 2017. However, two months later, the US imposed strict inspection requirements for the Vietnamese catfish supply chain. Many Vietnamese producers couldn’t adjust to the standards and catfish exports to the US plummeted to 3,903 tonnes in September of that year.
In March 2018, the US Department of Commerce also announced anti-dumping duties—ranging between $2.29 and $7.74 per kilogram—for Vietnamese seafood companies accused of dumping catfish into the US market in 2015 and 2016. Vietnam petitioned the ruling to the World Trade Organization (WTO) calling it “highly unfair and protective”. In addition to diminishing US imports, Vietnamese catfish exports to the European Union (EU) also waned in 2017 after claims of high pollution levels in the Mekong Delta. Vietnam could turn to nations like China to import their catfish, but losing the EU and US markets will undoubtedly disrupt a thriving industry. Gro Intelligence subscribers can monitor monthly US imports of aquaculture products to determine if Vietnam will continue to lose its share of the US catfish market.