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Fisheries work towards regional processing hub

VIET NAM - The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) met in Hanoi, on June 11, to draw up an action plan for 2007-08 and to serve its long-term goal of establishing a seafood-processing hub for Southeast Asia inside the country.

VASEP’s Shrimp Committee Deputy President Truong Dinh Hoe also called on businesses to set up a mechanism to track product origin and distribution between farmers, wholesalers and processors in an effort to control production and ensure quality controls.

“Such a mechanism would help businesses trace the locations of material production, thus enabling them to sort and dispose of products of the same origin in shipments found to contain antibiotics residue or impurities,” said the senior official.

At the meeting, VASEP also unveiled a project being run with the Ministry of Fisheries to adjust several regulations on the supervision of food hygiene, quality controls and the granting of import-export certificates, the streamlining of procedures and increasing the responsibilities of both businesses and state agencies.

The seafood watchdog also promised businesses assistance in building independent, modern laboratories to help them cut both time and costs of testing the food hygiene index.

The VASEP also called on the Government to issue a series of policies to encourage the importation of raw materials in order to have processing factories operating at full steam.

“Only by so doing, could Vietnam become a seafood processing hub in Southeast Asia,” the VASEP stated.

Vietnam recorded a sharp surge in seafood production and exports in 2006 and early 2007. Exports revenues increased 22% year on year to almost US$3.35bil in 2006 and continued to rise by 17.8% to over US$1bil for the first four months of this year.