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VietNamNews

Lam Dong refutes unsafe tea claims

Update: November, 20/2014 - 09:02
According to Minh, the root cause of false information being carried by Taiwanese media was unhealthy competition among tea enterprises. — Photo tuoitre.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Lam Dong can provide evidence disproving reports that Vietnamese tea has been planted on dioxin-contaminated soil, a senior official in the northern province has asserted.

Le Van Minh, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, told the Tien Phong (Vanguard) Newspaper that false information carried by Taiwanese media in September had seriously affected local exporters.

He said that according to initial information from local exporters, about 70 containers of tea products were "suddenly stopped" and are still awaiting customs clearance in Taiwan.

Ha Thuy Linh, director of Ha Linh Co. Ltd in Xuan Truong Commune was cited by the newspaper in a Monday report as saying about 11 tonnes of packaged tea worth more than VND2 billion (US$94,000) was still waiting customs clearance.

"Local enterprises, including us, will face financial difficulties if the situation is prolonged. We need to pay farmers, workers and pay taxes and maintain our production," Linh said.

Minh said that the Lam Dong-based Taiwan Trade Association and HCM City-based Taipei Economic and Culture Office had asked the provincial administration to confirm that the tea cultivation area was free of dioxin contamination.

The administration, in turn, had asked the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to work with relevant agencies to carry out studies and provide the needed certification and documentation, he said.

Nguyen Xuan Tien, Chairman of the Lam Dong People's Committee, had earlier chaired a conference to discuss the case and take follow-up action.

The committee directed the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment to work with relevant agencies and refute false information generated about the quality of tea grown in the province. This information should be reported to the ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, Industry and Trade, and Foreign Affairs, it said.

Minh also said that Taiwan had invited officials from the province to join a press conference next Monday to provide clarifications on tea cultivation in the province. Relevant agencies were urgently gathering evidence and necessary information to present at the conference, he added.

Unhealthy competition

According to Minh, the root cause of false information being carried by Taiwanese media was unhealthy competition among tea enterprises.

Viet Nam is better placed than Taiwan to cultivate olong tea and offers more competitive prices. Officials suspect that the false information could be aimed at causing difficulties for the local tea export sector.

Lam Dong tea is exported to many countries, including "difficult" markets like the US, Japan, South Korea and European countries.

In recent years, the province has earmarked 3,000 hectares of "qualified" land (with an environmental impact assessment certificate from a national agency) for tea cultivation, mostly in Bao Loc and Di Linh districts as well as Da Lat City. — VNS

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