US denies dumping chicken in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – Besides denying dumping chicken in Vietnam, the head of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) implied that it will be hard for Vietnam to win if it pursues an anti-dumping lawsuit against US exporters.

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US denies dumping chicken in Vietnam,  USA Poultry & Egg Export Council

On August 4, the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City released an official announcement in response to the information that the US chicken is being dumped in Vietnam.

The announcement quoted Mr. Jim Sumner, USAPEEC President, as saying that US chicken parts are sold in Vietnam at the same or higher prices than in the US, so under World Trade Organization rules they are not being dumped.

He further explained that Vietnamese poultry producers are struggling to remain profitable in the face of high prices for feed grains.

“We are very sympathetic that this situation is affecting local producers. Consumers should keep in mind that the complaint is about U.S. frozen leg products and these products do not directly compete with fresh locally produced whole chickens, which is the preferred product of Vietnamese consumers,” Sumner said.

Sumner said that USAPEEC and the US poultry industry have always been very supportive of the Vietnamese poultry industry, conducting various seminars and workshops aimed at supporting food safety and bio-security practices for the local poultry industry.  

In the early 2000s, USAPEEC came to the assistance of the local poultry industry during the devastating avian influenza crisis, developing materials aimed at informing Vietnamese consumers that cooked poultry is safe and encouraging consumers to support their industry.

USAPEEC and its members also donated containers of U.S. chicken leg quarters to the Vietnam VIPA, the Vietnamese poultry association, which were sold at auction to fund educational materials for Vietnamese producers to help protect themselves against the spread of avian influenza.

Also, USAPEEC and other U.S. agricultural exporters have expressed strong support in the U.S. Congress for Vietnam’s objective of increased Vietnamese exports of footwear and clothing to the U.S. in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Through its World Poultry Foundation (WPF), the US poultry industry has funded numerous training sessions and workshops for the Vietnamese industry on poultry management, food safety, and other important topics in 2012 and 2013.

Currently, the WPF is also working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to implement a hatchery management program to increase the production efficiency for the industry in Vietnam.

Working with the US grains industry, USAPEEC also helped Vietnamese government officials to write the country’s new laws governing food safety, plant health, and veterinary drug use.

Many of these activities are aimed at increasing the availability, affordability, and ultimately the consumption of chicken in Vietnam. The US industry has no interest in marginalizing the Vietnamese poultry industry, or in competing directly with domestically produced products, as increased poultry consumption benefits everyone, Sumner said.

According to the USAPEEC president, two-thirds of the chicken leg quarters produced in the US are consumed in the U.S. Those remaining are sold to more than 125 countries around the world, including Vietnam at similar prices as in the U.S. The primary U.S. chicken parts shipped to Vietnam are leg quarters, legs and feet.

Sumner noted that all US poultry products are inspected by the US Department of Agriculture for wholesomeness and that exported products meet the same high standards for quality and food safety as product for US consumption.

He pointed out that a government-supervised program ensures that all poultry flocks are tested for any viruses or disease prior to slaughter as an added assurance that no unhealthy birds can enter the food chain.  

Sumner noted that in 2010, China brought dumping charges against the United States chicken industry, but the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. chicken industry after a lengthy legal process that cost both China and the U.S. significant time and resources.  

Commenting on the move from the US poultry producers, Mr. Nguyen Van Ngoc, Vice President of the Southeast Livestock Association, said that the US has not listed specific data of the production costs: for example, how many kilos of feed are needed for one kilogram of chicken, the costs of breeding and veterinary drugs. Ngoc said the lawsuit will be still promoted.

Anti-dumping lawsuit

An official from the Competition Management Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that the department had not received the petition on anti-dumping investigation but the agency had information related to the case.

Ms. Pham Chau Giang, director of the division of investigations of commercial defense cases of domestic enterprises, in the Competition Management Department, said that she had heard information through the local media, and had not yet received a written request on anti-dumping investigations from the Southeast Livestock Association.

However, Giang said the division previously had information about the unusually cheap prices of American chicken in Vietnam. The agency was collecting information from related sides. When there is enough data showing signs of dumping, the Competition Management Department will formally work with relevant units.

"Any organization, business or individual has the right to request anti-dumping investigation of certain items. The Minister of Industry and Trade has the right to make decisions on the investigation,” Giang said.

Lawyer Pham Le Vinh from the ATIM Law Firm, who was involved in the anti-dumping lawsuit of the stainless rolled steel product, said conducting an anti-dumping investigation and lawsuit is a complicated process. This process is long and includes several stages, such as submitting the file, issuing the investigation decision, investigation and preliminary conclusions, investigation and the final conclusions, setting the tariff and considering the tax rates annually after the first year of taxation.

Each stage has its own requirements and the results depend on many factors. Notably in the phase of filing requirements and asking for the Ministry of Industry and Trade to initiate the investigation, the plaintiff, specifically the Southeast Livestock Association, has to meet business conditions: the southeast poultry breeders must account for at least 25 percent of the local market share, and do not import or have cooperation relations with importers.

According to the lawyer, it is difficult to reach agreement, especially when the volume of imports from the US must be higher than 3%.

After the investigation decision is issued, the independent investigating authorities will carry out an investigation and require the parties to provide data or use available data to calculate the dumping margin and the loss rate.

Nguyen Van Ngoc, Vice Chair of the Southeast Livestock Association, said that the Southeast region is the largest chicken breeding area in Vietnam. Each month this region supplies about 9 million chickens to the market. Therefore, the condition of accounting for 25% or even 50% of the market is fully met.

Nguyen Thanh Phuong, from Emives Livestock Co., said each month about 6,000 tons of chicken are imported, equivalent to 3 million chickens. This volume accounts for over 30% of domestic production, or 10 times over the level of 3% required by law.

The Southeast Livestock Association said it would provide necessary information and data needed for the investigation.

Probe into cheap US chicken conducted

The Department of Livestock will probe into whether US chicken thighs sold at 20,000 VND (0.92 USD) per kilogramme in Vietnam can be considered dumping and if there is trade fraud in this case, said Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Van Trong.

Trong said at a press conference on August 5 that the livestock associations of the Southeast region and Dong Nai province filed petitions for an anti-dumping investigation into frozen chicken thighs from the US.

Most imported chicken thighs in Vietnam currently hail from the US, he said, noting that the products are sold in the US at between 3-3.5 USD (65,000-75,000 VND) per kilo.

The fact that US chicken thighs are priced at 20,000 VND per kg in Vietnam is quite surprising, he said, adding that products near their expiry dates are usually cheap in the US and Vietnamese agencies need to examine the quality of US-origin imports.

Domestic consumers are questioning the quality of US chicken thighs as surveys by Vietnamese companies show that the product is being sold at much higher prices in the US than in Vietnam, said Phung Huu Hao – Deputy Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department.

If companies imported cheap frozen thighs and labelled false expiry dates, it is trade fraud, he noted.

Hao continued to say that during a working visit to the US in late 2014, the ministry detected food safety regulation violations in several food production facilities. It also sent a report on the issues to the US Department of Agriculture and the US side acknowledged all the violations specified in the report. VNA


US denies dumping chicken in Vietnam, USA Poultry Egg Export Council