|Inside a pineapple processing plant in the northern province of Ninh Bình. VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng|
HÀ NỘI — Meeting the EU's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) remains a challenge for Vietnamese food exporters as the country seeks greater integration in the global food supply, said industry experts and policymakers.
Often considered non-tariff barriers, SPS has been viewed as a major hurdle for Vietnamese exporters to overcome even after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) went into full effect in August 2020.
According to experts, finding ways to meet the bloc's SPS was key to sustainable trade of agricultural products with the EU, a major market for Vietnamese producers.
Two years since the EVFTA went into effect, there has been significant improvement between Việt Nam and the EU, especially in the agriculture sectors, with the former's exports to the EU reaching over US$3.2 billion, an 11 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
"We have high hopes for the EVFTA, as well as other FTAs, to be the driving force for Việt Nam's economic growth in the 2021-35 period," said Huỳnh Minh Vũ, a deputy director of the HCM City Institute for Development Studies.
"However, there will be an increase of SPS and other Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), which we must overcome as an exporter," he said.
Trịnh Bá Cường, secretary-general of the Food and Foodstuff Association of HCM City (FFA) said SPS for developed markets such as the EU remained a challenge for Vietnamese businesses, in particular for those in seafood and food processing.
There have been instances in which Vietnamese products were found to contain over-the-limit chemical exposure with some products given warnings and forced to be recalled.
"What it meant was that our businesses failed to meet the EU's SPS and therefore will not be granted entry to the bloc's markets or worse, facing extremely expensive recalls of their products," he added.
In order to steer clear of trouble, he advised Vietnamese exporters to carefully study the SPS and their targeted markets. He said once they are able to meet the EU's standards, Vietnamese products will likely be accepted everywhere else.
Lê Thanh Hòa, a director from the Vietnam SPS Office, urged businesses to invest in dedicated production centres, additional management and technical training with a focus on limiting chemical exposures and contamination.
"Vietnamese businesses must pay attention to ensuring product safety, controlling the usage of agricultural chemicals and implementing GAP with the EU's SPS in mind," Hòa said.
In addition, businesses must strictly follow the EU's regulations on product labelling, said Cao Xuân Quân, from the Ministry of Science and Technology. He said it's mandatory to list all the required information such as ingredients, allergic agents and product origins. VNS