While Vietnamese fresh produce exports are at an all time high, the sector is still not reaching its full potential, according to Hoàng Trung, head of the plant protection department at Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Speaking with Viet Nam News, Trung said international shipments were forecast to generate upwards of US$1.8bn in 2016, thereby surpassing the previous record set last year.
Despite the encouraging performance, Trung said gaining phytosanitary access to a number of key markets was proving challenging for the industry, with this quest likely to become more difficult over coming years.
“The challenge may become tougher due to the range of free trade agreements Vietnam has joined, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, cutting many tariffs to zero,” Trung explained. “When the tariffs are cut to zero, countries will raise their phytosanitary standards. Several countries including the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, will issue stricter stipulations to imported plants, especially fruit.”
The size and scale of Vietnam’s export industry also presents challenges, according to Trung, who encouraged more producers to become compliant with international standards.
“For example, it takes time for the department to collect enough growers to issue an area code for lychees before exporting to the US,” Trung told Viet Nam News. “Also, there are few companies participating in exporting fruit. The capability of several export companies is still limited, some even violated regulations and hurt the reputation of other fruit export companies.”