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Safety assurance needed for more farm exports to Japan

Update: March, 07/2013 - 03:00

TOKYO (VNS) — To increase farm produce and seafood exports to Japan, Viet Nam needed to ensure that goods met strict food safety and hygiene standards, said Doan Xuan Hung, the Vietnamese ambassador to Tokyo, at a seminar in the Japanese capital yesterday.

Viet Nam's exports to Japan increased in recent years but still represented only about 1.7 per cent of Japan's total imports, according to Hung. Many major products of Viet Nam, especially farm produce and seafood, had not yet appeared on the Japanese market.

It was important to make Japanese importers and consumers "feel secure", an effort that could be helped along by governments and enterprises on both sides, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Dang Khoa said that since the Viet Nam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement on investment protection and free trade was signed in 2008, up to 86 per cent of Vietnamese exports to Japan had enjoyed tax incentives. The agreement opened up many opportunities for enterprises processing and exporting farm produce and seafood, he said.

Last year, exports of these commodities to Japan reached over US$2 billion, a result Khoa said still lagged behind potential.

Viet Nam would continue to work on quality assurance and food safety management systems to ensure its goods met strict international requirements, he said.

Masamitsu Nakaizumi, a representative of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, said it was also very important for Viet Nam to pay adequate attention to agricultural development since 80 per cent of its population lives in rural areas.

He said Japan had assisted Viet Nam with expert exchanges and farm produce hygiene improvement projects over the last few years, efforts which he expected to intensify in the future.

Viet Nam was proving a more and more attractive destination for Japanese enterprises with an average per capita income of $1,500, said ASEAN-Japan Centre General Secretary Yoshikuni Onishi.

As the two countries marked their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the centre planned to carry out a series of projects to foster bilateral economic cooperation as well as trade, investment and tourism relations. Recent conferences discussing the Vietnamese investment environment had drawn great interest from Japanese enterprises, he noted.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a wave of investment from Japan to Viet Nam had boomed after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Southeast Asian country in 2006, and his visit early this year was expected to spur a new surge of capital. In Hung's words, the relationship between Viet Nam and Japan was "finer than ever". — VNS

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