Crab prices fall to their lowest in decades

Monday, Aug 31, 2015 08:00

Crab prices were steady in the first five months of this year but have been falling since June. They have fallen from VND200,000 per kilogramme in May to VND140,000 now, while crab with roe have fallen from VND320,000 –350,000 to VND200,000–220,000. — Photo tienphong
Compiled by Le Hung Vong

Crab breeders in the Mekong province of Ca Mau are worried about imminent losses due to the relentless fall in the prices of the crustacean. The main reason for the 30-40 per cent price decline in recent months is that Chinese traders have stoppedbuying.

Crab prices were steady in the first five months of this year but have been falling since June. They have fallen from VND200,000 per kilogramme in May to VND140,000 now, while crab with roe have fallen from VND320,000 –350,000 to VND200,000–220,000.

Nguyen Van Thoai, a crab farmer in Phu Tan District's Rach Cheo Commune, said these are the lowest prices he has seen in decades.

"Farmers cannot earn any profit if crab prices go down by VND100,000 per kilogramme," he lamented.

Ca Mau is the country's largest crab breeding province, with most farms located in the districts of Nam Can, Ngoc Hien, Phu Tan, and Cai Nuoc. Statistics from province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development show annual crab exports, mainly to China, amount to tens of thousands of tonnes.

But shipments to China usually fall during the Buddhist Vu Lan festival (to express gratitude to mothers) on the 15th of the seventh lunar month, resulting in a sharp decline in crab prices.

Vo Ngoc Hung, a trader specialising in saltwater crabs in Nam Can town, said his exports to China have declined from 1 tonne a day in May to some 200 – 300kg now. "The fall in exports has affected small farmers because they cannot … wait until crab prices go up again."

Chau Cong Bang, deputy director of the Ca Mau Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the depreciation of the yuan is also a reason for the decline in seafood exports to China. His department has been watching the fluctuations in seafood prices to come up with recommendations for farmers and producers when necessary, he said.

Massive sales in HCM City

HCM City launched its biggest sales promotion of the year, the "2015 HCM City Promotion Month," to support its production and manufacturing sectors and other businesses with an opening ceremony at the Phu Tho Stadium last Friday.

The programme organisers said more than 2,000 companies and 4,000 households — registered as individual traders at traditional markets and running shops around the city — are taking part in the programme through 6,200 shops and other sales points in the city.

The participants will stock an estimated VND2.3 trillion (over US$101 million) worth of goods for the programme.

Goods sold include consumer products, electronics, fashion items, food and foodstuff, chemicals and cosmetics, banking and telecom services, interior decoration items, and hospitality and tourism services. Each comes with a 5-49 per cent discount as well as freebies.

Some of the activities to be held as part of the decade-old programme include promotions from September through December like the online "Happy Purchase, Reliable Shopping" promotion campaign on 29 August; street price reduction and gift offer; promotional activities at traditional markets like Ben Thanh, Ban Co, Vuon Chuoi, Nguyen Tri Phuong, Hoa Hung, Binh Tay, An Dong, Pham Van Hai, and Hoang Hoa Tham.

Promotions will also be on offer at trade fairs to be held in suburban districts and other remote areas while mobile shops will be sent out to remote areas in the city to sell goods.

Nguyen Phuong Dong, deputy director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said the quality and origin of products sold in this year's programme would be closely monitored by inspectors from his department and the Market Management Agency.

The department has also urged relevant authorities in the city's 24 districts to closely monitor the promotions announced by traders during the rest of the year.

Violations would attract severe penalties, including a ban on violators' participation in future promotional programmes, Dong warned.

Severe penalties

Low-cost carriers Vietjet and Jetstar Pacific have been grumbling about the increasing numbers of their Vietnamese passengers who are denied entry by Singapore immigration authorities and forced to return home without being provided clear reasons despite possessing all the required documents.

In the first half of the year 1,515 Vietjet passengers were denied entry, a spokesman for the carrier said.

For each passenger refused entry, the carrier had to pay S$17 (US$12) per hour for the waiting room until they board the flight back to Viet Nam and S$32 Singapore dollars per hour for the personnel supervising them.

Vietjet has paid more nearly $710,000 in this manner since launching flights to Singapore in May last year, excluding the cost of the passengers' tickets.

A Jetstar Pacific spokesperson said nearly 100 people are denied entry into Singapore every month, and the extra cost it suffers as a result is around VND5 billion ($227,300) a year.

Vietjet has sought emergency assistance from the ministries of Public Security and Transport, the Vietnamese embassy in Singapore and other relevant agencies.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam (CAAV) has asked the Transport Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send diplomatic notes to Singapore demanding an explanation for its refusal to allow the Vietnamese passengers, most of them women, entry into the country.

CAAV said it has written to its Singaporean counterpart asking to provide airlines of both countries with a list of passengers who are persona non grata. In a correspondence to the CAAV on August 21, Singaporean civil aviation authorities said a number of Vietnamese visitors are not allowed to enter Singapore because they fail to present id cards or legal passports.

Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) transfers them to a waiting room and carries out additional information checks and interviews. Immigration officers then allow those travellers who meet the requirements to enter the country.

Nguyen Minh Hang, Minister Counselor at the Vietnamese embassy in Singapore, has been quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying that the ICA denies entry to people visiting the country multiple times without a clear purpose or to look for jobs there and other similar reasons. To avoid further losses, Vietjet wants Vietnamese agencies to discuss the issue with Singapore and set out specific immigration regulations. With so many passengers forced to return to Viet Nam, the airline wants Singaporean immigration officers to resolve such cases as quickly as possible so that they could fly back to Viet Nam on its next flight the same day to reduce costs and to also consider lowering those costs. —VNS

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