Inside a shrimp processing plant of Sao Ta Food JSC in Sóc Trăng Province. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI Vietnamese enterprises need to change their perception of food safety and improve the quality of agricultural products to meet the requirements of the EU market.
Trần Thùy Dung, an expert from the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) Việt Nam Office said that before 1993 the European Union (EU) accepted more than 1,100 kinds of pesticides in imported goods, though the bloc has reviewed this list many times since.
As of January 2021, the EU only accepts 520 kinds of pesticides in imported goods. For pesticides not on the list, the EU regulates the maximum allowed level of residue on imported goods.
“In 2020, the SPS Việt Nam Office received more than 100 notices about the draft changes to EU’s allowable residue levels. With those changes, the local enterprises need to pay attention to change production process to meet the EU standards," Dung said at a meeting to update the regulations and commitments on SPS in the EVFTA, hosted by the SPS Việt Nam Office and the Nông nghiệp Việt Nam (Việt Nam Agriculture) newspaper on Tuesday.
To adapt to EU regulations, Ngô Xuân Nam, deputy director of SPS Việt Nam Office, said that local producers must change their mindset on food safety and improve the quality of agricultural products.
“Export markets, including the EU, have regularly updated their standards on food safety and quality for import goods. Therefore, the local producers and traders need to strictly comply with those regulations and guidelines on growing area codes, packaging and labels,” Nam said.
Meanwhile, management agencies also need to implement inspection and supervision programmes to support enterprises and manufacturers in meeting the requirements on the export markets, he said.
Lê Thanh Hòa, director of SPS Việt Nam Office, said the EU is a large market and its regulations for import goods mainly focus on food safety.
In order to meet the EU regulations on microbial contamination and pesticide residue levels, the State management agencies and localities need to provide more specific instructions for farmers, processors and exporters to meet EU market regulations, Hòa said.
In addition, the Vietnamese agriculture sector is still facing many challenges, including small and scattered production, the impacts of climate change and diseases, and fierce competition with agricultural export products of other countries.
Increasing protection of domestic production via technical barriers (standards of quality, food safety and traceability) is important, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected Việt Nam's agricultural exports.
FTAs, such as the CPTPP, EVFTA and Industry 4.0, have also impacted the production, processing, and consumption of agricultural products.
Nguyễn Mạnh Hiếu, from the Institute of Agricultural Electrical Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology, said the EU annually imports 35 billion euros of vegetables and fruits. Việt Nam is ranked 27th among fruit and vegetable exporting countries to the EU with a modest market share of 1 per cent.
About 50 per cent of Việt Nam's exported passion fruit products go to the EU. To penetrate the EU market, it is necessary to have good products, good preservation and transportation technology; and good control over planting area code. The EU is interested in production according to GlobalGAP.
“The EU has strict regulations on pesticide residues so there is a low volume of exports meeting those regulations. But this is a large and potential market for Vietnamese vegetables and fruits,” said Hiếu.
According to Hòa, all commitments on tax cuts are opportunities for the localities and businesses to promote exports. Therefore, they need to know information about food safety, residues, and microbial contamination. On the other hand, to export farming products to the EU, certification such as GlobalGAP or FSC for the wood industry is also important. VNS