China’s tightened controls jeopardize farm exports
China’s stricter requirements for packaging and origin traceability for agricultural products exported to its market will take effect from May 1, making it more difficult for Vietnam to ship its produce to the northern neighbor through informal channels.
The Farm Produce Processing and Market Development Department, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has sent a notice to the Plant Protection Department and the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, announcing China’s new requirements.
Accordingly, watermelon shipped to China must not be wrapped in straw or other materials containing harmful microorganisms, and jackfruit and bananas must be contained in carton boxes or plastic bags.
Moreover, information on the origins of these products must be included in their packaging.
Due to China’s tightened controls, local farmers are finding it hard to sell their products, even at low prices.
For example, pineapple produced in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai or durian from the Mekong Delta region can no longer be shipped to China.
Nguyen Lam Vien, vice chairman of the Vietnam Farms and Agricultural Enterprises Association, was cited by Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper as saying that domestic farmers and enterprises should ship their products to China through formal channels. China has reduced import tariffs on Vietnamese agricultural products from 17% to 3%-4%.
According to Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, it takes five to 10 years to complete procedures to ship an agricultural product to China. He advised local farmers to focus on products that have been approved by China.
However, the local competent agencies should provide updates on the importing market’s demands for these products to prevent redundancy.
Nguyen said that most of the enterprises in the agriculture sector are micro d or small. However, the potential for the sector’s development is high due to high demand in the local and foreign markets.
Last year, China spent US$2.7 billion importing vegetables and fruits from Vietnam, mainly dragon fruit, mangoes, durians, watermelon, pineapple, litchis, longans and sweet potato. More than 60% of Vietnam’s agricultural products are shipped to China through informal channels, said Wen Xi Chen, economic counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in HCMC.
The northern neighbor has allowed the formal import of only eight kinds of fruit from Vietnam: watermelon, dragon fruit, litchi, banana, longan, jackfruit, mango and rambutan.