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Fruit exported to China facing difficulties   2009-06-10 - VietNamNet/TT

As of July 1, 2009, Vietnamese fruit exported to China has to follow new regulations on origin tracing. Meanwhile, enterprises and management agencies still have only vague understanding of new export procedures.


An agreement has been signed between Vietnam and China under which fruit exported from Vietnam to China and from China to Vietnam has to show clear origins. The agreement, applied to five types of fruit (longan, litchis, bananas, dragon fruits and watermelons), will take effect on July 1, 2009.


Businesses lacking information


Le Van Anh, Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Export-Import Joint Stock Company No 1 (Vegetexco 1), said that a lot of farmers still have not heard any information related to the export of fruits to China after July 1.


Secretary General of the Vietnam Fruit Association (Vinafruit) Nguyen Van Ky also said that the association has got general information only and has just asked for more detailed information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).


Among the five types of fruits, dragon fruit exports account for the highest percentage, 85 percent, of total fruit exported to China. However, a lot of dragon fruit exporters are uneasy because they don’t know how to register the origins of their goods.


Ly Hai Long, Export Director of HCM City-based Bao Thanh Company, said that it took his company a whole month to register information as per request of the Chinese side.


Bao Thanh registers its business in HCM City, but it has dragon fruit farms and packaging workshops in Binh Thuan province. The HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development refused to provide documents on certifying origins of products because Bao Thanh does not grow dragon fruits in HCM City. Long related that he contacted Binh Thuan local authorities, but he was told to contact competent agencies in HCM City. However, Long was finally lucky enough to be able to register the information in HCM City.


According to the Binh Thuan Industry and Trade Department, nearly 70 percent of dragon fruits in the locality are being exported to China. Therefore, if enterprises cannot register information with local agencies about the origin of products, dragon fruit exports will get stuck.


Le Quang Ninh from the Tien Giang Trade Promotion Centre under the province’s Industry and Trade Department has confirmed that the province has four of the five types of fruits. Meanwhile, Ninh said enterprises still do not have enough information about what they need to do to be able to export products. Most enterprises and orchards in Cai Be district have been exporting fruits to China through intermediaries. Meanwhile, longan producers in Tien Giang province are planning to stop exporting the five types of fruits or shift to trade other types of fruits.


No detailed guidance yet


Enterprises say that they have just been told to register information with local departments of agriculture and rural development, and then that the agency sends the list of exporters and their information to the Cultivation Department under the MARD.


Dr Pham Van Du, Deputy Director of the Cultivation Department, said that his department has been assigned to receive and gather information from exporters and send files to the Chinese side prior to July 1, while he does not know what the department will have to do next.


Du said that by June 9, the department had got lists of exporters from 29 provinces and cities.


“I think that after receiving the list of exporters, Chinese agencies will verify the information and grant certificates to those enterprises which can meet the requirements. This will be a long process,” Du said.


Meanwhile, Nguyen Nhu Tiep, Deputy Head of Seafood, Farm and Forestry Produce Quality Control Department under MARD, said that the Chinese side has just asked for the names of exporters, while no requirements on quality of fruit have been put forward; apparently, the currently applied quarantine procedures will remain unchanged.


According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam’s total vegetable and fruit export turnover in the first four months of the year reached $127.8 million, an increase of 8.2 percent over the same period of 2008. Of this amount, the turnover of produce exported to China was $12.9 million, an increase of 22.4 percent over the same period of 2008. China remains the biggest importer of Vietnamese fruit.

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