Challenges ahead in meeting EUs quality standards

Friday, Sep 20, 2019 10:00

Participants are introduced to advanced technology for agriculture at the Viet Nam-EU forum on sustainable agriculture. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh

Viet Nam will have to address some challenges in order to fully grasp the benefits of the EU – Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and its opportunities for the export of agricultural products.

The statement was released by Head of Trade and Economic Affairs at the EU Delegation to Viet Nam Carsten Schittek at the Viet Nam-EU forum on sustainable agriculture jointly held by EuroCham, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Ha Noi yesterday.

“The EU market is very demanding in terms of compliance with standards. This is of course to safeguard the protection of our consumers. However, this does not mean that the EU market is 'closed', on the contrary,” Schittek said.

He said the EU is the largest importer of agriculture products, and imports more than the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. Its consumers value high quality products with special characteristics such as organic, fair trade and geographical indications.

He emphasised that agriculture plays an important role in bilateral trade between the EU and Viet Nam. The country still needs to make an effort in this area and move up the value chain, as well as develop a supply industry. “Higher income is likely to be reached by further investing into sustainability of production.”

“Vietnamese products are not yet identified by EU consumers. With growing exports, more brand building will be possible for Viet Nam.”

He said it is therefore extremely important that Viet Nam is fully prepared for the FTA before its implementation. The EUs agriculture agencies and Viet Nam should continue the close cooperation to ensure a smooth implementation of the EVFTA commitments on the first day of its entry into force [which is expected next year].

Deputy Minister of MARD Le Quoc Doanh said Viet Nam will formulate and perfect policies to create favourable conditions for enterprises to access and apply modern and advanced scientific and technological research results in service of agricultural production and business.

“We will make full use of the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution to develop agriculture in an efficient and sustainable manner,” Doanh said.

“We will also enhance support to protect intellectual property at home and abroad for key and specific agricultural products, promoting branding development, geographical indications, traceability and intellectual property for protected products.”

By 2030, Doanh said Viet Nam's agriculture targets to rank among the top 15 countries in the world, of which its agricultural processing industry ranks among the top 10 countries in the world.

In the past ten years, Viet Nams export turnover of agricultural, forestry and aquatic products annually grew more than 9 per cent on average. Last year, it reached a record of $40.02 billion. There are 10 agricultural products with export turnover of $1 billion or more, including fruits, cashews, coffee, rice, shrimp and wood products, with an export turnover of over $3 billion.

The GDP growth rate of the whole sector in the period 2008-17 reached 2.66 per cent per year and last year reached 3.76 per cent, the highest level in the last seven years.

The forum, attended by more than 150 guests, provided participants with innovative solutions from high-level representatives of European enterprises, including presentations from Bayer and ABB on how digital technology can support sustainable agriculture in Viet Nam.

It also included two panel discussions which rounded off the event, discussing the EVFTA and Agriculture 4.0. These sessions featured a range of participants, including representatives of Nedspice Processing, Control Union Vietnam, NS Bluescope Lysaght Vietnam, I. Schroeder KG, Les Vergers du Mekong, and IDH Vietnam.

Chairman of EuroCham Nicolas Audier said Viet Nams agricultural sector will be one of the biggest winners from the EVFTA, as a reduction in tariffs will increase demand and boost exports to Europes large, high-spending consumer market.

“However, the EU has very high standards for food imports. So it has never been more important for European enterprises and Vietnamese producers to come together, learn from each other, and help develop a world-leading agriculture sector in Viet Nam with safe, certified, and traceable produce,” Audier said.

“This event will help to develop stronger relationships between the Vietnamese and European business communities and, in doing so, help to unlock the full potential of the EVFTA,” Audier added.

According to EU statistics, as much as US$2.73 billion or 15 per cent of Viet Nams global exports of agricultural products in 2018 were destined for the EU. The trade in agricultural products always represents an average 10 per cent of the total two way trade.

The EVFTA, on day one of its enforcement, will eliminate 85.6 per cent of tariff lines which is equivalent to 70.3 per cent of Viet Nams exports to the EU. After seven years of implementation, 99.2 per cent of the tariff lines and 99.7 per cent of Viet Nams exports will be duty free. — VNS

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