Seminar explores ways to boost exports to Japan
Shrimp shipments to Japan likely to face stricter inspections
By Ngoc Hung - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – The Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Tuesday held a seminar to update enterprises on the latest information about the Japanese market and help local firms find ways to step up sales there.
Speaking at the seminar, Le Hoang Oanh, deputy head of Vietrade, said the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement signed in 2008, along with the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Partnership Agreement, had created a favorable legal framework for developing bilateral economic and trade relations between Vietnam and Japan.
Despite the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan last year, two-way trade still grew strongly, according to a Vietnam News Agency report.
Vietnam-Japan trade turnover totaled US$21.1 billion last year, up 26% against 2010, in which Vietnam exported US$10.7 billion worth of products to Japan.
In the first quarter this year, Vietnam’s exports to Japan brought in US$3.1 billion, while its imports reached US$2.5 billion. The major items shipped to Japan were seafood, apparel, furniture, coffee, plastic, leather and footwear.
Vo Thanh Ha, head of the Northeast Asia Division under the ministry’s Asia-Pacific Market Department, said the biggest challenge for Vietnam when penetrating this market is the strict standards for industry and agriculture, especially technical barriers for agro-products.
Local enterprises must comprehend Japan’s regulations on food hygiene and safety if they want to succeed in doing business with Japanese peers.
* Japan would likely raise the mandatory testing percentage for Vietnamese shrimp from 30% to 100% if four more shrimp shipments to this country are detected to contain the forbidden substance ethoxyquin.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said 30% of the shrimp shipments from Vietnam now must undergo quality tests upon arrival in Japan. If one or two more shipments were found to be infected with ethoxyquin, Japan would increase the mandatory testing percentage to 50%, and then 100% if more shipments failed the quality tests.
Ethoxyquin is mixed in animal feeds to oxidize protein and fat, Hoe said.
Pham Anh Tuan, deputy head of the General Directorate of Fisheries, told the Daily that his agency would work with VASEP and animal feed producers over the use of ethoxyquin.
If ethoxyquin adversely affected export to the Japanese market, the fisheries directorate would ban the use of this substance, said Tuan.
Previously, in October 2010, Japan raised the trifluralin testing percentage for Vietnamese shrimp from 30% to 100%. Later in November 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development officially prohibited the use of trifluralin in fish farming.