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Thai and Filipino tuna exporters have accessed the market tariff-free for years. Vietnam’s tuna exports to Japan have steadily declined since 2013 due to exceptionally high tariffs, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Following a bilateral trade deal, Japan scrapped tariffs on Thai canned skipjack tuna, which carried a 3.2 percent tariff in 2009 and 1.1 percent tariff in 2011. During the same time, Japan has maintained a 6.4 percent tariff on similar products from Vietnam, according to VASEP.
Japan extended the same policy to canned yellowfin tuna and frozen tuna loin, lifting duties entirely on Thai yellowfin imports in 2012 and Filipino imports the following year under the Generalised Systems of Preferences (GSP).
During that time, Japan levied a 9.6 percent tariff on canned yellowfin tuna from Vietnam, even after the Vietnam – Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA) came into effect in October 2009.
The two countries have yet to set a timeline on lifting tariffs on Vietnamese tuna exports, which generates between $450-550 million, annually.
Japan ranks among Vietnam’s top-eight tuna export markets and VASEP has called on the Ministry of Industry and Trade to negotiate a deal similar to the arrangement enjoyed by exporters in Thailand and the Philippines.