16:00 | 13/04/2015 Trade
The border gate in An Giang province has been lively, boisterous, colourful, smelly and gritty with an electric atmosphere during the early months of the year, full of Cambodian traders travelling to Vietnam to buy fish, shrimp and prawns.
At the crossing there is a lot of talk that Cambodia once a powerhouse in the Southeast Asian region for fish exports has transformed into just the reverse, a lucrative export market for the Vietnamese aquaculture industry.
Cambodia has been transitioning into a large prosperous fish market for Vietnamese farmers said Lam The Gioi Customs Department head at the Tinh Bien border gate.
Since the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, exports of seafood have been on the uptick with hundreds of tonnes of seafood having made its way into Cambodia via the border crossing.
The selection has been quite varied including snake head catfish, white carp, common carp, grass carp, bighead carp, Spanish mackerel, short body mackerel, salmon, prawn, shrimp, crab, cockle and others.
You name it and it’s regularly being transported to Cambodia via the border crossing he said.
Cambodia has a long history of exporting mainly freshwater fish and related products from its low technology aquaculture farms to other countries in Southeast Asia dating back centuries.
However, according to government officials and traders, stocks of both freshwater and marine fish have been steadily declining over the last few years that have given way to the shift of the country into a leading fish importer in the region.
Year after year they have said Vietnamese exports of live, fresh, frozen, and processed fish have been steadily increasing and finding their way into the Cambodian market as local fish have been insufficient to keep up with domestic demand.
Reliable statistical data on imports into Cambodia is not readily available, because most imports have been sold at urban and rural fish markets as the legal system for importing fish from Vietnam is not commonly used in practice.
Many traders with limited funds use unofficial border crossings to avoid paying the high import fees. Only large scale traders that have the capability and financial resources to transport several tonnes of fish at a time pay the necessary import fees and use the legal method.
In late March, at the Khanh Binh border gate in An Phu district, An Giang province, there were a bevy of trucks loaded to the hilt with fish, shrimp and prawns parked at the Long Binh market.
Immediately, thereafter, a large group of Cambodian traders who were waiting at the Chraythom border gate in Kandal province, Cambodia, swept in and bought the lot and transported all of it to Phnom Penh.
A Vietnamese trader said Vietnamese fish has been selling at VND25,000-50,000 per kilogramme in Cambodia and is quickly becoming a popular menu item and a staple in most all restaurants throughout the country.
Trading has also picked up at the Tinh Bien border gate where fish exports have regularly passed through on its way to Takeo and Kampot provinces in Cambodia reported local resident Nguyen Van Tuan.
Cambodian traders often purchase Vietnamese fish for VND2,000-4,000 per kilogramme higher than it is sold for in Vietnam, Tuan added.
Bui Phuoc Dinh, director of Dinh Nguyet Company Limited, said every day his company collects fish and shrimp in local markets and then resells it to regular Cambodian customers.
Business is booming and the company has on average exported tonnes of seafood to Cambodia daily, Dinh said, which has resulted in creating hundreds of jobs for employees with average monthly earnings of VND4.5 million.
A number of Cambodian traders shared that land for aquaculture has been on the decline as it is being put to other uses. In addition, fishing has become more strictly controlled, making it difficult for aquaculture, they stressed.
Nguyen Van Thao, vice chairman of the An Phu District People’s Committee said Khanh Binh border gate located 70km from Phnom Penh as the crow flies has the added advantage of trade via using river transport.
Consequently, it greatly facilitates traders from both Vietnam and Cambodia and the gate has become a trans-shipment point for all products, including agricultural products and seafood, Thao said.
Currently, the Binh Di Bridge connecting Cambodia to Vietnam is on track to be completed in the near future, which will also benefit traders.
Ngo Hong Yen, Tinh Bien district People’s Committee Chairman said the expansion of Vietnam’s seafood trade to Cambodia has been a positive development for aquaculture providing a readily accessible lucrative market.
Source VOV News