Vietnam says 'no' to waste exports to ease port congestion

VIETNAM has banned the import of paper and plastic scrap mainly due to congestion at its main marine terminals brought about by waste exporters seeking new markets because of the Chinese ban on such goods.

The congestion and ban reflect the continuing struggles of US waste exporters to access new markets, as exports of the banned commodities fell 21.2 per cent in the first quarter to 229,662 TEU, according to PIERS.

However, US exports of waste to Vietnam in the first quarter surged 277 per cent to 11,066 TEU after a 240 per cent jump in US waste exports to the country in 2017. Vietnam's market share of these banned wastes rose 3.8 points to 4.8 per cent in the quarter, building on the 2.4 point gain the country made in 2017.

The Vietnamese ban was implemented "to maintain service quality and facilitate import-export activities of all enterprises," according to a letter to customers from Tan Cang-Cai Mep International Terminal and Tan Cang-Cai Mep Thi Vai Terminal owner Saigon Newport Corporation released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, reports IHS Media.

Hapag-Lloyd also sent a notice to shippers that the terminals are no longer accepting imports of paper and plastic scrap.

As of June 15, the terminals will only discharge containers of paper scrap from vessels if accompanied by valid import permits and written date commitments to pick up cargo. From June 25 to October 15, the terminals will not accept any plastic scrap.

While Vietnam's congestion is evidence of its allure to waste exporters, those in the United States have been having greater success getting their shipments into the Indian market, where volume rose 208 per cent in the first quarter to 49,909 TEU, lifting India's market share 16.2 points to 21.7 per cent.

India is the No 2 market for US exports of the banned waste, followed by Indonesia, where volume rose 320 per cent in the quarter to 12,265 TEU, while Vietnam is the No 4 destination.

The US ports that have seen the greatest increase in the banned volumes moving to Vietnam are Oakland, Los Angeles-Long Beach, and New York-New Jersey.