Policy research - implications of liberalisation of fish trade for developing countries. A case study of Vietnam

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Tung, Nguyen Thanh ; Thanh, Nguyen Van ; Phillips, Michael (2004)
  • Publisher: Natural Resources Institute

Since the end of the 1980s, when Viet Nam launched the doi moi policy of renovation, economic and social conditions have remarkably improved for the majority of the population. Poverty levels have been reduced by half over the past ten years. Social services have been improved and the economy in general continues to grow at a high rate. Vietnam is a country that has made significant strides in poverty reduction. Using the international poverty line, poverty incidence in Vietnam has been reduced from 37.4% in 1998 to 28.9% in 2002, or a 2% decline annually. Indicators such as access to basic services like electricity, clean water, health care and education show substantial improvement, especially in rural and remote mountainous areas. However, poverty still remains at a high level and the disparity among regions and ethnic groups is increasing. Poverty is still mainly concentrated in rural areas, where 90% of poor people live.\ud \ud In Vietnam the fisheries sector, especially coastal and inland aquaculture, is a prioritized sector for development. It is important not only for national income through exports but also as a subsistence activity for poverty reduction among the large rural population. Several million people depend on aquatic resources, directly or indirectly, for their livelihoods in inland and coastal areas. According to official employment statistics, one in every twenty-five persons in Vietnam is engaged in a fisheries activity. This means that there is a considerable labour force of around 3 million people is directly employed in the country’s fisheries sector.\ud \ud Farming of catfish is an important freshwater aquaculture activity in Vietnam, reared in floaing cases and ponds. “Tra” (Pangasius hypophthalmus1) and “basa” (Pangasius bocourti) farming is a traditional occupation and a means of livelihood for farmers in the Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam (Trong et al, 2002). Thanks to the Government’s trade liberalization reforms catfish production increased substantially in recent years to catering to increased international demand and market opportunities. Volumes of cat fish fillet exported by Vietnamese export companies increased from 5,000 tonnes in 1996 to 10,000 tonnes in 2001 (90% of which was the tra species), with half exported to the United States.
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