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Vietnam's seafood exports decline on sluggish demand, higher input costs

HANOI, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Reduced global demand on top of rising prices for aquaculture feeds have thwarted efforts by Vietnamese seafood exporters to sustain recovery momentum, local media reported on Monday.

Seafood exports in the first two months fell 29 percent from the same period last year to 1.1 billion U.S. dollars as sales plunged and customs suspended deliveries, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported, citing customs authorities.

Stubborn inflation has dampened consumption in major markets, said the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), adding that exports to the U.S. plunged 55 percent, and shipments to South Korea dropped 14 percent in January and February.

Pangasius and tuna exports reported a drop of 38 percent and 30 percent to 240 million dollars and 109 million dollars, respectively, in the first two months from the same period of the year before.

Shrimp exports, which normally account for between 40 percent and 45 percent of the total annual seafood exports from Vietnam, dropped 40 percent to 355 million dollars due to higher competition from low-priced products from Ecuador and India.

As farmers, processors and exporters were also worried about steep increases in feed prices depriving them of profits, the VASEP general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe proposed the removal of a two-percent import tariff on dried soybean to support the output of farmed shrimp.

Vietnam's seafood exports last year reached 11 billion dollars for the first time.