Vietnamese products struggle to meet EU standards

By Dam Tuan   August 12, 2016 | 01:57 am PT
Substandard 'made in Vietnam' products may offset Vietnam-E.U. free trade agreement benefits.

The European Union accounts for around 38 percent of Vietnam's exports, but high standards and strict requirements make it difficult for Vietnamese enterprises.

Exports from Vietnam to the E.U. are expected to increase after the Vietnam-E.U. free trade agreement takes effect in 2018, but if the quality and standard of Vietnamese products do not improve, the agreement could significantly favor the E.U., according  Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity), the official newspaper of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (the umbrella organization of all political and social groups in Vietnam).

Bui Thanh An, director general of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (under the Ministry of Industry and Trade), Bui Thanh An said that Vietnam's total international trade balance has hiked tenfold, $4.1billion from 2000 up to $41.4 billion in 2015, in the last 15 years.

The E.U. is one of Vietnam's major export markets. In the first five months, Vietnam's export value to the bloc reached $13.3 billion, a 10.5 percent on-year climb.


"Made in Vietnam" products need to meet strict quality and standard requirements to enter the EU market. Photo courtesy of Hai

However, Vietnamese enterprises also struggle to keep up with E.U. standards. Representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that many goods from Vietnam including over 400 food products have recently received a warning from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Commission due to unsatisfying safety and standard requirements.

Tran Van Lieng, chairman and general director of Vietnam Cacao JSC, said: “European and North American markets consume up to 85 percent of world cocoa and chocolate products but our company is still struggling to export chocolate to the E.U.”

“The biggest obstacle is that Vietnam does not have any organization approved by the European Commission for quality assurance,” Lieng added.

Similarly, Vietnamese rice products can only dominate the Asian market with 59 percent of market share while it is hard to find them in fastidious markets like Europe. The Vietnamese rice brands remain weak which quality substandard for the highly competitive E.U. market.

To enter the E.U. market, Vietnamese products need to meet requirements on quality, environment, safety, food hygiene, food safety, packaging and pesticide residue control under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) and GlobalGap.

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