Forum on 'Regulations on food quality and safety - specific standards in export activities' held in Can Tho

10:44 | 26/07/2017 MUTRAP Corner

On July 20th in Can Tho city, a commercial policy forum on "Regulations on food quality and safety - specific standards in export activities" was held by Department of Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Industry and Trade in cooperation with the Can Tho Trade Promotion Center.  

forum on regulations on food quality and safety specific standards in export activities held in can tho
At the forum - Photo: canthostnews

The forum focused on some major subjects such as specific standards in some Vietnam's export markets, Fair Trade for export businesses, instructions and advisory for businesses to use ITC Standards Map.

At the forum, delegates discussed limitations relating to export policies, specific standards in food quality and safety. Experts suggested that Vietnamese exporters should focus on updating technologies and building strong brands for their products, while regularly reviewing and updating import policies of partners to export their goods to the European market.

Technical chief advisor of the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) Claudio Dordi said that most Vietnamese goods exported to the EU market have not been identified as the majority of enterprises are unaware of the importance of branding.

According to Claudio Dordi, 99% of coffee imported into Europe comes from Vietnam, but very few consumers are aware of that. In addition to coffee, cacao, tea, toys, shoes and textiles are also in a similar predicament. European consumers put Vietnamese and Chinese goods on the same par, which makes it more difficult for Vietnamese goods to be exported to this market when importing countries simultaneously increase their quality control barriers.

forum on regulations on food quality and safety specific standards in export activities held in can tho
Technical chief advisor of the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) Claudio Dordi delivers speech at the forum - Photo: canthostnews

By developing standards for good agricultural practices (GAPs), good manufacturing practices, traceability and requiring suppliers to obtain quality certificates from independent certification bodies, exporters are being made to be more responsible for the safety of their products.

In addition, they have not been equipped with sufficient information nor have they complied with export standards, leading to a high volume of returned goods. Another reason comes from the fact that most of Vietnam's agricultural products distributed in the EU market are marked as Chinese or Japanese products, as Vietnam mainly exported raw materials through these countries.

To address these issues, Claudio Dordi suggested said that Vietnamese export enterprises should quickly focus on renewing their technologies and building strong brands, in addition to remaining updated on changes in the import policies of partner markets.

In the European market, there are two criteria that Vietnamese exporters should pay attention to, which are general standards and specific standards. The general standards are the mandatory regulation that if the goods do not meet this threshold, they will be refused for import, returned or even destroyed at the port of entry. Exporters may be barred from exporting their products to the market for a period of time or even permanently. Specific standards are voluntary, incentive and "add-on" rules for exporters. These are regulations on the working environment such as caring for the health and equity of employees, environmentally friendly production processes and animal welfare (humanitarian slaughter and transport standards).

forum on regulations on food quality and safety specific standards in export activities held in can tho
Dr. Nguyen Phuong Mai, advisor from UNIDO's CSR Project in Vietnam speaks at the forum - Photo: canthostnews

Dr. Nguyen Phuong Mai, advisor from UNIDO's CSR Project in Vietnam, said that in order for Vietnamese exports to build strong brands, enterprises need to affirm their reputation through the enforcement of "social responsibility" in the pyramid model: Economy - Liability - Ethics – Charity.

Economic responsibility is a strategy to maximise profit and competitive efficiency. Liability is the commitment between business community and the society. Ethical responsibility is to ensure that the activities of business adhere to the rules and values recognised by society, though such rules are not reflected in the laws. The pyramid's peak is charity, meaning that the benefits businesses produce go beyond the expectations of society.

Meanwhile, senior technical advisor of the Decentralised Trade Support Services for Strengthening the International Competitiveness of Vietnamese Small and Medium Enterprises program Alain Chevalier introduced delegates at the event to the International Trade Centre standards map software. The software helps Vietnamese exporters to quickly learn about the major characteristics, requirements and policies related to exported goods, while comparing commodity competition standards and providing self-assessment of business records.

Alain Chevalier added that the main trend that Vietnamese businesses exporting goods to the EU should pay special attention to is that consumers in this market are willing to pay higher prices for goods manufactured under standard process, with environmentally friendly factors and social responsibility, instead of focusing on cheap prices as in the past. The market is developing towards fair in trade and organic direction.

Quang Huy