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Domestic businesses striving to overcome technical barriers in exports

The EU’s latest adjustments in quality inspection of imported processed food and produce from Vietnam show looser regulations. This means Vietnam’s exported merchandise has improved quality, safety, and hygiene.

The most updated news from the EU reveals that from June 27, 2023, instant noodle exported by Vietnam to these markets will not need a certificate of food safety inspection issued by a competent authority in Vietnam. Also, the inspection frequency at border gate is 20 percent, the same as that of dragon fruit, vermicelli, and noodle. The produce of bell peppers and lady’s fingers are still subject to a 50-percent inspection frequency at border gate.

Deputy Director Ngo Xuan Nam of Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosaniary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point (Vietnam SPS – under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) said that because of containing seasonings and sauces, made-in-Vietnam instant noodle was under stricter formal inspection and special conditions when being imported into the EU from December 2021 due to the risk of ethylene oxide contamination.

The looser regulation this time shows improvements of domestic businesses in observing the EU’s requirements of not creating serious risks to human’s health.

Despite that good news, this May, Vietnam SPS received 76 notices on new or adjusted technical barriers about processed food and produce from many other foreign markets.

In particular, Canada has sent 18 notices (9 for draft report of opinions from WTO’s members and 9 for newly effective regulations) regarding the maximum residue level (MRL) for the chemicals of fludioxonil, sedaxane, mandestrobin, acifluorfen sodium on processed and raw produce. The US, Brazil, the UK, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea have also sent notices about their new regulations on MRL on processed food, imported produce from other countries.

Australia even asks for a stamped/electronically signed phytosanitary certificate that includes a QR code or website link to enable online verification of the document. It encourages the use of the latter format via technical exchange between governments (ePhyto/eCert) and paperless trading in customs clearance because of the convenience, tightened security, and higher validity.

In a meeting with trade counselors in May, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said that international markets are setting more and more technical barriers, mostly focusing on product quality, safety – hygiene, and packaging so as to protect their people’s health as well as limiting imports from other nations as a way to support domestic consumption.

The EU’s looser inspection regulations for certain exported merchandise from Vietnam is the effort of the Industry and Trade Ministry and trading counselors in the EU region. This achievement must be maintained carefully, or else there will be higher inspection frequencies for violations.

HCMC Food and Foodstuff Association shared that domestic businesses in the field are used to such strict technical barriers in various foreign markets. Accordingly, many standards of VietGAP, GlobalGAP, ChinaGAP, ThaiGAP are quite similar in that they promote ‘Good Agricultural Production’ or GAP, meaning no chemical residue in produce.

Therefore, following GAP criteria when cultivating crops and raising cattle should be enough to satisfy strict requirements of picky markets around the world. The important point here is for functional agencies to invest more in post-harvesting and forecasting tasks so that businesses can adjust their plans accordingly.

General Director Pham Thai Binh of Trung An Hi-tech Farming JSC. proposed that besides meeting GAP standards, enterprises should select high-value and unique products to invest in. The European-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has offered a great chance for domestic produce to enter and compete in the EU’s markets and neighboring ones as the tax has dropped to zero percent.

However, the EU has always adopted harsh technical barriers to protect domestic goods, which means Vietnamese companies have to continuously strive to overcome them for sustainable exports into EU nations.

On June 13, the Ministry of Industry and Trade released Dispatch No.3648 to instant noodle exporters to EU nations, announcing new regulations on food safety. Accordingly, the EU formally moves made-in-Vietnam instant noodle from its Appendix II (inspecting food safety certificate at border gate) list to Appendix I with an inspection frequency of 20 percent at border gate. Nevertheless, in June, if Vietnamese instant noodle violates food safety regulations, the frequency will increase to 50 percent.

Over 20 years, the journey of Vietnamese businesses exporting goods has achieved impressive and encouraging results. In 2000, the country’s export turnover only accounted for 0.4 percent of the global export turnover, staying out of the top-100 countries and territories list. At present, Vietnam has moved up to the 20th position, with a proportion of 1.49 percent of the world’s export turnover. Among Southeast Asian nations, Vietnam occupies the second position as to export turnover, only after Singapore.

Ho Chi Minh City is recognized as the economic leader in the nation and the strongest motive behind the overall economic development of Vietnam’s Southern part as well as the whole country, always staying at the first position regarding export turnover.

(Source: The Ministry of Industry and Trade)

Source: Sai Gòn Giải Phóng News

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