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Standards for food exports: Vietnam on remote island
25 | 10 | 2007
Vietnam is making great efforts to build up sets of standards for exports, especially food and farm produce, in harmony with international standards.

Continued troubles

Vietnam’s commercial affairs division in Japan has continuously sent good news from Japan in the last few weeks. Japan may import meat-made products from Vietnam, and Vietnam won a bid to provide 21,000 tonnes of rice to the country.

Until now, Vietnam has not been able to export pork-made products to Japan as Vietnam was listed among the countries where foot-and-mouth disease prevailed.

However, Vietnamese enterprises have been warned that Japan sets very high requirements on the hygiene of food imports.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has set up 29 requirements on meat imports from Vietnam. Vissan and Duc Viet are the two companies which are believed to be eligible to export products to Japan.

The commercial affairs division said that it would persuade the ministry to send staffs to Vietnam to examine production and assess product quality before signing official agreements on importing meat-made products from Vietnam.

Every year, Japan imports $200mil worth of processed meat products, and the imports are expected to increase in the coming years due to the higher domestic labour cost. Imports increased gradually from 3.2% in 2002 to 10% in 2006. The main meat exporters to Japan are China, the US, Italy, Thailand, Germany and Spain. Japan now imposes taxes of 8.5% on ham and 10% on sausage.

As for rice exports, Vietnam has won bids to export 66,050 tonnes of rice so far this year. However, 31,050 tonnes of rice were refused as the consignments were found containing Acetamiprid at higher-than-allowed levels (0.01 pm). As a result, Japan has decided to examine 30% of Vietnam-sourced rice.

However, with efforts by the two sides, deliveries of rice to fulfill the contracts were finally completed. Vietnam was able to avoid the dreaded inspection of 100% of rice imports.

The fact that Vietnam, once again, has won a bid to export 21,000 tonnes of rice shows that Vietnamese rice exporters have regained the confidence of Japanese importers and consumers.

Integrating in standardisation to boost exports

Experts have pointed out that in the period of global integration, instead of protecting local production with tariffs, countries will set technical barriers. Vietnam will have no other choice than integrating in standardisation if it wants to boost exports.

The problem lies in the fact that there exists a big gap between Vietnam’s and the world’s standards. Soybean sauce is a typical example. According to EU standards, the maximum recommended daily intake of 3-MCPD is 0.02mg/kg of body weight, or 50 times lower than the standard applied in Vietnam (1mg/kg of body weight/day). Soybean sauce produced in Vietnam has a high level of 3-MCPD, and thus is not recommended for use in the EU.

International experts have advised Vietnam to bring its standards closer to international standards. 3-MCPD not only exists in soybean source, but in many other Vietnamese export items as well like cereals, dairy products, meat and fish. Otherwise, Vietnam will close the door to the world’s market on itself.

Source: VietNamNet Bridge
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