Vietnam’s fruit, seafood exporters up against tough Australian rules

09:00 | 07/12/2019 Trade

(VEN) - In certain respects, Australia is a more demanding market than the US and the EU, presenting challenges for Vietnamese exporters, especially those wishing to make the most of their country’s promising free trade agreements.

vietnams fruit seafood exporters up against tough australian rules
Shrimp is a strong export to Australia

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2008, Vietnam exported goods worth US$4.591 billion to Australia, but a decade later exports declined to US$4.5 billion in 2018. In the first nine months of this year, exports to this market dropped five percent to US$2.5 billion compared to the same period last year. Australia became the 13th largest importer of Vietnamese goods, lagging far behind the US, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (RoK).

The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) came into effect in 2010, but businesses in Vietnam and Australia face difficulties in building up sustainable partnerships, largely due to Australia having the most stringent quarantine and product safety regulations in the world. It also maintains many strict technical barriers, making access to its market difficult. Thus, while Australia imported an average amount of such Vietnamese export staples as shoes, garments and wooden furniture, the volume of Vietnamese fruits, seafood and coffee exports to Australia has been far lower.

Trinh Bich Thuan, Director of the Lucky Star Huynh Duc Service Trading Company Limited said that once the company exported products to Australia, the Australian partner asked the company to deliver goods without paying it a security. Many businesses exporting farm produce and seafood to Australia said they are having difficulties in accessing this market because of product labeling and veterinary drug residue regulations.

Vietnamese enterprises need to shift to cleaner production if they are to increase export value to Australia. Phan Hung Dung, Vice Chairman of the Saigon Entrepreneurs Club said that for Australia, price is second to quality. In particular, Australia pays great attention to packaging and labeling.

Truong Dinh Hoe, General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said that to take advantage of tariff preferences for exporting to Australia, the fisheries industry will focus on goods that are strong in this market, such as shrimp and Tra fish.

Following the success of the Vietnamese Longan Day held in September in Melbourne, in late October, the

Vietnamese Trade Office in Australia launched a campaign promoting the Vietnamese durian. The campaign, in the

form of a roadshow, featured an antique car, decorated with durian fruit and a banner with “Vietnamese Durian”

travelling around the center of Sydney to attract attention.

Mai Ca