Trucks loaded with fruits and seafood moving to the borders to enter China. Vietnamese exports to China in February rose by 33% month-on-month (Photo: VNA)
China’s reopening as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted has strongly lifted Vietnamese agricultural and fishery exports to the country, according to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam.
Speaking at a recent trade promotion forum, he opined that China’s dismantling of its COVID-19 lockdowns had given a big push to bilateral trade, with Vietnamese exports to China in February rising by 33% month-on-month.
The Mong Cai-Dongxing Border Gate was immediately reopened after the good news came in, leading to scores of traders flocking to the gate to look for Chinese partners.
The gate plays a prominent role in bilateral trade because it commercially connects Quang Ninh province with China’s Guangxi province. The latter is the third-largest importer of Vietnamese seafood, importing 75% of its annual fishery consumption.
Regarding processed agricultural products, he said Vietnamese exporters who want to enter the Chinese market must hand in two dossiers, one to a Vietnamese agency and the other to a Chinese agency.
However, some exporters have skipped steps by submitting their dossier to the Chinese agency only, leading to the situation that the Vietnamese side is unable to verify the submitted dossier at the request of its Chinese counterpart.
The deputy minister called on exporters to strictly follow the procedure to save themselves from redoing the process. He also suggested the formation of a team tasked with keeping agricultural producers well-informed about the Chinese market.
A representative of the Department of Quality Management, Processing, and Market Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development described Quang Ninh as a commercial gateway to Asian markets for Chinese traders.
Guangxi is one of the major importers of Vietnamese agricultural and fishery products. The province alone accounts for 47.5% of China’s total imports from Vietnam.
The representative urged Vietnamese producers to focus more on trade promotion to fully unlock the trade potential between the two countries.
To Van Quang, vice chairman of the Vietnam-China Business Association in Guangxi, mentioned his Dong Dang Industrial Investment Company, which was pushing hard for a Vietnamese seafood trading centre in Fangchenggang City.
He said its efforts have paid off as 600,000 tonnes of cold storeage warehouse are being built by the municipal authorities. Once finished, the warehouse would allow Vietnamese seafood to enter China in larger quantities and with lower lead times.
He also revealed that the company plans to import 35,000 tonnes of durians, 120,000 tonnes of purple sweet potatoes, and certain quantities of seafood to China this year.
Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, head of the Management Board, Mong Cai International Border Gate, estimated that Vietnamese agricultural and fishery exports to China via the gate grew by around 60% year by year.
From her perspective, Vietnamese producers should reshape their mindset to bring more changes to bilateral trade. She said they need to be more commercially cooperative to not lose out on trade opportunities.
She also underlined the importance of digital technologies, including e-commerce, in trade promotion. She said e-commerce would allow producers to market their products beyond borders.
Lastly, the head urged the producers to embrace novel production techniques and well-organised management to keep their products up to standard.
Under Order No.248, Vietnamese food producers are required to register with the CIFER system to be eligible for exports to China.
Some participants at the forum complained that China had changed the registration procedures in the system, resulting in longer times to have their codes approved.
However, Ngo Xuan Nam, deputy director of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point (SPS Office), claimed that China had not made any such changes to the system since the enactment of Order No.248.
Even if China had wanted to revise the procedures for business registration and food safety, the process would never be a mean feat as the country has to consult other WTO members to get the job done.
The deputy director said his office had held talks with Chinese authorities, requesting them to speed up the process of approving Vietnamese producers.
Deputy Minister Nam suggested Quang Ninh’s authorities and their Chinese counterparts hold a live trade promotion forum in Dongxing city as soon as possible to enable bilateral discussion on business matching activities and supply chain development./.