Enterprises have called for an increase in salt imports in order to maintain production output.
However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, after considering a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development proposal, has decided to halt salt imports temporarily in order to adjust domestic salt prices.
Halting salt imports is expected to encourage enterprises to use domestic salt while pushing up domestic prices.
The ministry’s suspension measures have been met by negative responses however.
“Halting salt imports might put enterprises at risk of decreased production due to a shortage in material,” said the Director of the South Basic Chemical Company, Le Van Hung.
Hung added that domestic salt was of such low quality that it was unable to meet the quality demands associated with industrial production.
Salt import quotas, granted to the company to date, have only been capable of meeting 33 per cent of the total yearly demand, he said, adding that although his company has approached local salt companies in the past, it has received little in reply.
Director of the Viet Tri Chemical Company, Dao Quang Tuyen, agreed with Hung regarding the low quality of domestic salt, which makes importing salt a necessity.
The Vedan Company, which produces seasoning, has also petitioned for permission to import salt in order to meet its 78,000 tonne demand for the rest of the year.
Domestic salt, dependent on weather and outdated technology, failed in successfully servicing production, said the Vice Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Chemical Department, Luu Hoang Ngoc.
A shortage in high quality salt has raised the demand for salt imports, Ngoc confirmed, adding that the ministry has only allowed the import of 100,000 tonnes of salt for industrial production purposes and 2,000 tonnes for medical use this year.
To date, half of salt import quotas have been granted already, while granting the rest may be suspended to the end of this month at least, according to the Director of the Chemical Department, Phung Ha.
“Improving the quality of domestic salt would be of huge advantage in sating local demand,” Ha emphasised, adding that the ministry has additionally encouraged foreign investment in domestic salt production for industrial purposes.
Domestic salt output reached 543,000 tonnes during the first half of the year, 114,000 tonnes used in industrial production, 46 per cent of which is still in stock, according to a Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production report.
The suspension of salt imports has helped increase salt prices by VND200 – 300 (US$0.01 – 0.015) per kilogram, which is currently fluctuating from VND4,000 ($0.19) to VND5,000 ($0.24) per kilogram, double that of the same period last year.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the country’s estimated demand for salt for the whole year is set to reach 1.35 million tonne while the estimated domestic output has been set at nearly 1 millions tonnes.