Pork imports rocketed over the last two months as market demand surges weeks before the Tet, or Lunar New Year holiday - the biggest holiday in Vietnam when pork is widely used in preparing traditional dishes - according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Foreign Trade Agency.
The Agency of Foreign Trade reported Vietnam imported over 15,000 metric tons of pork, worth US$15.9 million, in November 2019, up 164 percent and 113 percent, respectively, from the same period of the previous year.
In the first 11 months of last year, the country spent US$124 million on over 111,000 metric tons of pork imports, year-on-year increases of 97 percent and 108 percent, respectively.
Most imported pork is frozen and comes from the U.S., Germany, France, and Poland, the agency added.
The imported pork products are subject to multiple taxes and fees, including customs duties, five-percent value-added tax (VAT), and cold preservation fee, which add around VND33,000-35,000 ($1.43-1.51) to the cost of each kilogram of pork.
Vietnam currently imposes a ten-percent most-favored-nation (MFN) import tariff on frozen pork while that for fresh and chilled pork is 25 percent.
For countries that signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and Mexico, the rates range from 3-21 percent.
According to the agency, the MoIT has inked bilateral agreements on animal quarantine with 19 countries.
Over 1,640 foreign firms have been granted permits to export pork products to Vietnam while about 140 domestic companies have been allowed to import pork.
The ministry has been accelerating communication campaigns to raise public awareness of pork prices and supply and to encourage people to shift to alternative products, in order to stabilize the market.
It has also worked with relevant ministries to come up with measures to ensure a sufficient supply of farming products, particularly pork, ahead of the holiday.
On the first few days of 2020, prices of live pigs dropped by about VND1,000-2,000 per kilogram in the northern region, where the products sold for about VND90,000-95,000 ($3.90-4.11) per kilogram, the highest in the country.
The 2020 Lunar New Year will fall on January 25, with preparation and celebration typically taking place a week before and after the date.
As of mid-December 2019, nearly six million pigs weighing over 342,800 metric tons, or about 20 percent of the nation’s hog herd, had been culled due to the African swine fever that first appeared in the country in February last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The epidemic has led to a historic pork shortage in Vietnam, pushing pork prices up in the final months of the year.