Seafood exporters slam red tape

Monday, May 15, 2017 09:05

Workers process frozen shrimps for export at the Cuu Long Seaproducts Company in the southern province of Tra Vinh. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh

The Government will likely ease the requirement for seafood enterprises to submit declarations of conformity with food safety regulations, officials said at a conference on Saturday.

The conference was held by the ministries of Health, Industry and Trade and the Natural Resources and Environment, the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and local seafood companies. It was designed to resolve issues rising from the implementation of an April 2012 decree on the Food Safety Law for food producers in Viet Nam.

At the conference, VASEP proposed the Government remove the requirement on declaration of conformity with technical and food safety regulations as it takes seafood firms 15 days to complete the required procedure, which is too long and costly.

In addition, the requirement is not included in the Food Safety Law, therefore, the firms should not have to comply with it, VASEP said.

Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong said VASEP’s request is reasonable as the Food Safety Law only requires seafood firms to declare whether their products meet the technical standards or not.

Cuong said that the ministry would try to amend the regulation within two or three months to meet the demand of VASEP and seafood firms, as well as the Food Safety Law.

At the conference, VASEP also proposed the Government cut down the number of procedures for food safety declarations from seafood firms and the time they spend checking those documents.

The association added that the Government should reduce the number of working days to three from the current 15 which Government agencies spend on checking documents, and inspecting and certifying the quality of seafood products, so that local firms can save cost, time and efforts.

According to Decree 38, Government agencies have to check, process and certify a seafood producer’s documents and products meet the technical and food safety standards within 15 working days from the day the product samples and documents are submitted.

Responding to those requests, the deputy health minister said the ministry has used the level-four public service portal since late 2014 and all documents of seafood firms are now processed online, which is a big improvement for local companies.

However, the ministry has only deployed the online service system in Ha Noi and HCM City as there are still difficulties with the IT system in other provinces and areas, he added.

Regarding the 15-day issue, Cuong said that the required period is appropriate as Government agencies need a lot of time to inspect, compare, cross-check and certify the documents and products while they have to make sure Vietnamese products match other markets’ regulations.

In the ASEAN region, Singapore and Malaysia are the two countries that need Vietnamese firms’ declarations of conformity with food safety and technical standards to post-check the products, he said.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said that both Government and local producers should do their best to make their documents clear in order to reduce the time Government agencies need to review them.

In addition, local producers should hire a third-party company to complete checking and certification procedures to save costs, time and efforts as companies do not have a department that specialises in those activities, he added. — VNS

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