Malaysia suspends chili imports from Viet Nam

Monday, Oct 15, 2018 08:47

Harvesting chilies grown in a greenhouse. — VNA/VNS Photo Chu Quoc Hung

The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Malaysia (MOA) has announced plans to suspend imports of chilies from Viet Nam after detecting residue of chemicals used for plant protection exceeding the permissible level.

However, Pham Quoc Anh, Vietnamese Trade Counselor in Malaysia, has recently told Vietnam News Agency that there were two notable issues with the suspension.

Firstly, not all of the chili producers in Viet Nam violated the maximum residue limits (MRL) standards of Malaysia. In addition, the decision to suspend the import of Vietnamese chili was likely related to efforts by the Malaysian government to support young entrepreneurs.

Anh said the MOA has paid much attention to chili planting households in Malaysia, especially encouraging young farmers to join the programme. The ministry also expected that its farmers could compete with foreign chili-planting households.

As part of these efforts, the MOA decided to send a delegation to Viet Nam and Thailand – the two biggest chili exporters to Malaysia.

It also conducted investigations on imported chilies sold in Malaysia.

The investigation results showed that there was no cause for anti-dumping action. However, the low selling prices of imported chilies caused pressure on local products.

For example, the chili planted in Johor was sold at eight ringgit (US$1.9) per kilo while that imported from Viet Nam was sold at 3.9 ringgit ($0.9) per kilo.

The investigations also aimed to clarify whether imported chilies violated Malaysian safety standards. The import suspension of Vietnamese chilies was announced after the investigations.

Meanwhile, Tran Van Han, a Vietnamese chili exporter to Malaysia, said the suspension has stalled their activities.

The suspension has not only affected Vietnamese chili farmers but also has negative impacts on Malaysian consumers as they have not had access to cheap imported chilies. Meanwhile, Malaysia has to import up to 80 per cent of its local chili demand.

In response to the situation, the Viet Nam Trade Office in Malaysia sent an official letter to the Viet Nam Agro-product Processing and Market Development Department, requesting the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) clarify the permitted pesticide residue standards for Vietnamese exporters to consult.

In addition, the two sides should enter discussions to reach agreement on the issue of quality assurance, helping Vietnamese enterprises meet Malaysian standards to continue being able to export products into the country.

The Malaysian Government should take measures to remove difficulties for Vietnamese chili exporters as well as ensure the legitimate interests of Malaysian consumers, the official said.

Malaysia needs to publish information on imported chili standards, especially criteria relating to allowable residue, to help facilitate exports of Vietnamese enterprises to the market.

Malaysia officially started importing Vietnamese chilies to serve its domestic market in 2016.

Malaysia, South Korea and China are the three largest chili buyers of Viet Nam. — VNS

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