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Vietnamese Seafood to Receive European Inspection

VIET NAM A European Union (EU) inspection delegation will arrive in the country between April 20-30 to check local aquaculture areas, fishing ports and vessels, and processing factories licensed to ship their products to the EU market.

The EU is not only an important market for Vietnamese exporters but also a standard market for the global seafood industry.

Domestic seafood processors will break barriers to almost all seafood markets worldwide if they meet the EU’s hygienic standards, said Nguyen Dinh Thu from the National Agro-Forestry and Fisheries Quality Assurance Department. Thu said Vietnamese seafood products are highly priced in the EU with catfish fillet sold at US$3-4 per kilo instead of below US$2 in the U.S.

The EU is not only an important market for Vietnamese exporters but also a standard market for the global seafood industry. “Other international seafood importers are applying the quality criteria similar to the EU’s,” Thu said at a conference on Wednesday to brief local processors on the forthcoming EU inspection.

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture has been assigned to monitor seafood imports and will impose strict control on all stages from farming to processing like the EU’s quality control measures. China, South Korea, Brazil, and the Middle East are also revising their criteria following EU’s standards.

The EU is the largest seafood importer of Vietnam and accounts for over 25 per cent of the country’s total seafood export value, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Some 26 out of 27 EU countries imported 350,000 tons of seafood worth over US$1 billion from Vietnam last year.

Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of agriculture, said that 301 local producers with EU Code, a license to export seafood to the EU, will have to meet hygiene standards of EU inspectors. Otherwise, the EU will revoke the code and the Government will publicize the list of unqualified enterprises.

Phuong advised that domestic producers not repeat mistakes of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. After inspections in these countries, the EU has suspended seafood import from Malaysia and decided to rigorously check Indonesia’s products, while Thailand has also received a long list of warnings due to their shortcomings.

Vietnam has the largest number of processing factories with EU Code in Asia and will gain more opportunities in the EU if enterprises survive the upcoming inspection, Phuong added.

Phuong asked the National Agro-Forestry and Fisheries Quality Assurance Department to randomly inspect seafood exporters with EU Code before the EU inspectors arrive in the country. The department should take even stricter quality measures than the EU to help the enterprises recognize their shortcomings.

The inspectors will check around 10% of enterprises recommended by the department. Phuong advised the enterprises to beware of hygiene problems of fishing ports which have been criticized by the EU earlier

the Fish Site Editor

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