New export pattern emerging for agricultural-based goods

February 15, 2023 | 08:00
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Vietnam’s trade, particularly in agricultural goods, is being bolstered by China’s reopening of the border,. although it remains onerous for enterprises.
New export pattern emerging for agricultural-based goods
New export pattern emerging for agricultural-based goods, illustration photo/ Le Toan

According to the General Statistics Office, the export turnover of goods in January when the Tet holiday took place was estimated at $25.08 billion, a decrease of 13.6 per cent compared to the previous month, with China the biggest market, generating an estimated $8.1 billion in Vietnam’s export revenue.

Vietnamese importers have been encouraged by the fact that the Chinese government concurrently reopened customs clearance for products after a 3-year hiatus.

The China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance believes that China’s seafood consumption is gradually gaining ground. He anticipates that Vietnamese seafood shipments will rebound in the first few months of the year.

This year’s early customs clearance of agricultural goods via the Lang Son border gate in the north indicates that demand from China is rising, added Hoang Khanh Duy, deputy director of the Management of Dong Dang-Lang Son Bordergate Economic Zone. He estimates that nearly 370 containers were shipped to China through Lang Son on January 8-28, about 90 per cent of which were agricultural items.

Lang Son’s Tan Thanh and Huu Nghi border crossings, as well as Chi Ma and Coc Nam, are now being authorised by customs. According to a representative of Dong Dang-Lang Son border zone, drivers and passengers entering China need a COVID-19 test certificate and must complete a health declaration form.

In the last months of 2022, agricultural exports to China increased due to good market conditions. Compared to the same month in 2021, seafood exports to China climbed by 17 per cent in December, while exports of vegetables and fruits increased by 6.6 per cent, totalling $159.4 million.

Vietnam’s banana exports to China initially exceeded those of the Philippines. Currently, the Mekong Delta area is experiencing its peak fruit crop. Depending on the variety, the price of dragon fruit has climbed by $1.11 to $1.28 per kg, a significant increase compared to the same period last year, when it was just 17 - 28 US cents per kg.

According to Nguyen Thuy Thuan, director of Dragon Herb Tea Trading Production Co., Ltd. in Ho Chi Minh City, dragon fruit sent to China attracts middle-men looking to cash in. To reach this market as efficiently as possible, the corporation has shifted all exports to the sea rather than land.

China has been Vietnam’s major agricultural export market for many years. But pursuing a strict pandemic strategy policy for the last three years has had a significant impact on the production and trade of agricultural goods and fruit and vegetables in Vietnam. According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, exports of fruit and vegetables to most markets grew substantially in 2022, while exports of agricultural goods and vegetables to China declined by 19.8 per cent.

Despite that, China continues to monitor agricultural items for chemical residues, although its borders have been reopened.

The General Administration of Customs of China published two new pieces of legislation at the start of 2022 and to sell to the Chinese market, foreign companies must adhere to the new rules and restrictions.

Numerous Vietnamese enterprises are facing difficulties associated with the quality of their exports to China and the rules governing their exports. According to the Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point, there were 2,426 product codes authorised for importation into China as of early December. In which, around half belong to the group of 18 goods registered via the competent authority, and the rest are not on the list of items that must be registered through the competent authority.

Aquatic items are the most often passed through Chinese customs, followed by nut products such as cashews and coffee, vegetable oil products, and flour cakes.

Dr. Phan Thi Thu Hien, head of the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, “At this point, the Chinese side may update and enhance the list of criteria if new dangers are identified.”

According to Hien, China mandates the stringent use of good agricultural practises in terms of monitoring for hazardous bacteria, quality assurance systems, and transparency. In the event of a violation, the cargo will be incinerated or returned, depending on the severity. Hien said that Vietnam is seeking to negotiate with China to expand its market to pomelo, custard apple, coconut, plum, and citrus goods. Vietnam and China signed a protocol for the shipment of durian, bananas, sweet potatoes, and bird’s nest to the Chinese market in 2022.

Vietnam has supplied five plant-based goods to China in recent times: mangosteen, black jelly, durian, bananas, and sweet potatoes. In addition, seven traditional fruit exports are permitted: mango, dragon fruit, longan, lychee, watermelon, rambutan, and jackfruit. Vietnam is also temporarily providing fresh passion fruit and chilli peppers to the market.

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By Nguyen Hoang

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