In the last two years, China has gradually updated its import management policies on importing fresh fruit from Vietnam. Regulations have become more and more strict and tightly enforced. Informal trade has been restricted by requiring registration of orchards and packing houses. Sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for the imported fruits have also become more rigorously implemented. Since China is the biggest fresh fruit export market for Vietnam, in order to meet the changing requirements and demands of the Chinese market, Vietnam needs to strengthen and improve the quality of its agricultural trade facilitation.

The training-coaching event held in Son La province on the 8th of July 2020, co-organised by GIZ and VIETRADE, aimed to build capacity for Trade Support Organisations, Trade Promotion Institutes (TPOs/TPIs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to successfully export fresh fruits to China, considering the changing requirements from the Chinese market.

A total number of 130 participants attended the one-day event, demonstrating the high relevance and importance of the topic. The participants were from the public and private sector, with Trade Promotion Agencies under the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, provincial Crop and Plant Protection sub-department, farmer cooperatives, SMEs of four northern provinces. The four provinces are Son La, Bac Giang, Hai Duong and Hung Yen, which were all represented in the event, are among the biggest exporting regions of fresh fruits from Vietnam to China. Speakers were experts and senior officers from departments of different line ministries. Among them there were representatives from the Import-Export Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Korean Mas C&G Co., Ltd and consultants from the SRECA project shared their insights with the audience and supported the discussion and exchange at the gathering.

Cooperatives from different provinces receive consultation from experts on Traceability

At the event, participants were provided with updated information on regulations and procedures to obtain the certificate of origin (C/O) for their products and on SPS requirements and procedures for imported fresh fruits from Vietnam to China. Practical cases were demonstrated as examples for participants to grasp the current situation of Vietnam – China trade more clearly. An outlook on expected Chinese requirements, likely to be instituted in the near future, was also envisioned collectively and strategies on how to best prepare compliance with them were discussed. Additionally, key information on packaging design of agricultural products was shared by a designer from the well-known Korean Mas C&G Co., Ltd. In the end, the new Vietnamese traceability ecosystem which is under development by VIETRADE to wholly support enterprises in trade facilitation within the domestic and international markets was introduced. The traceability ecosystem aims to provide a comprehensive service to SMEs. It will cover various themes along the value chain including production, processing, packaging, storage, transportation arrangement, SPS inspection services in and outside of Vietnam, relevant banks, potential cases where lawyers’ support are needed, and trade promotion services.

To stimulate discussion amongst the participants and give them a chance for more in-depth exchange with the experts on site, group discussion/coaching sessions were organised on the topics of traceability, SPS and C/O as well as package designing. Participants had the opportunity to raise their questions and concerns and receive immediate feedback and clarification from the experts.

Group discussion on package designing

More than 100 participants and experts joined the virtual group created by VIETRADE on the popular social media platform zalo. Through this moderated zalo group, VIETRADE aims to create a forum for connection, exchange, advice and support among businesses, support organisations and experts to successfully export agro-products to China.

At the end of the workshop, some Vietnamese exporters were invited to partake in the piloting of traceability ecosystem.