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Russia May Reopen Market to Vietnamese Catfish

by the Fish Site Editor
18 March 2009, at 12:00am

VIET NAM - Russia will likely open up its market for Vietnamese catfish products again after months of interruption due to food safety concerns, as a group of local seafood processors left for Russia on Monday to ink an agreement to this effect.

Vietnamese exporters will meet with Russian importers and are due to cut deals to ship tra catfish products to the market under the witness of the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Physio-sanitary Surveillance (VPSS), said an official of Vietnam’s agriculture ministry.

Deputy minister of agriculture Luong Le Phuong told reporters on Monday that “the job of reopening the Russian market for Vietnamese catfish products is 90 per cent complete.”

Russian food safety authorities ordered a halt of catfish import from Vietnam on December 20 last year and dispatched a team of experts to Vietnam to look into production and processing conditions between February 21 and 28 this year.

The inspection was aimed to see whether Vietnamese processors had improved production and processing conditions as warned by the Russian side. Earlier last year, Russian inspectors had also visited Vietnam to look into such conditions in 24 local enterprises that were sending seafood shipments to Russia, plus 15 other local enterprises that wanted to penetrate the market.

Late last year, Vietnam’s agriculture ministry also issued new rules to tighten control over food safety and hygiene in seafood bound for Russia.

Deputy minister Phuong said Russia and Vietnam had agreed to cut down on the number of Vietnamese processors allowed to export catfish to Russia, and emerging market for Vietnamese seafood. The agreement was arrived at between Russia’s VPSS and Vietnam’s testing and quality assurance agency Nafiqaved.

Despite the temporary ban in Russia, Vietnam last year still shipped nearly 120,000 tons of tra catfish products to this market with total value of US$188 million, an upsurge of 161% in volume and 123% in value over 2007. This compared with US$1.45 billion worth of Vietnam’s tra catfish export of 640,000 tonnes last year.

the Fish Site Editor