By leveraging the ASEAN – China Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Vietnam’s fruit sector is benefiting from tariff-free policy when exporting products with certificate of origin (C/O) to China. However, in the last two years, with more and more strict and tightly enforced regulations from China – i.e. restriction on informal trade and close enforcement of sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, Vietnamese fruit exporters are having difficulty in successfully exporting their products into the Chinese market; even more so, the difficulties are incurred by the limited access to the updated information on these changing requirements.

Understanding the need of local SMEs to fully be aware of the Chinese import management policies on importing fresh fruit from Vietnam, GIZ and VIETRADE co-organised a training-sharing event in Hanoi on 22nd July 2020 for Trade Support Organisations, Trade Promotion Institutes (TPOs/TPIs) and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to ensure smoother and more efficient trade facilitation.

Nearly 100 participants from both the public and private sectors joined the event, including participants from the Trade Promotion Agencies under the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, farmer cooperatives and SMEs of seven northern provinces: Ha Nam, Bac Giang, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen. The presenters were experts from the Import-Export Department under Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), Institute of Southeast Asia Science and Education (ISASE), and consultants from the SRECA project they shared their insight and facilitated the group discussion.

Ms. Doan Thi Thu Thuy, Deputy Director of Vietrade giving the opening speech at the event

At the event, a lot of important information was provided, such as the regulations and procedures to obtain the certificate of origin (C/O) in order to grasp the benefit of tariff-free policy and the current status of traceability system in Vietnam. As for many SMEs, traceability can be a new term, therefore, GIZ contracted a consultant to conduct a research on traceability mapping in Vietnam. During the training-sharing event, the consultant briefed on the most significant findings from his work. Additionally, the consultant also provided knowledge about GS1 standard, barcode, QR code and related policies in Vietnam regarding the application and management of these systems. As a result, participants have gained a clearer understanding about the importance of traceability, the policy framework related to this system in Vietnam, and more significantly, the status of traceability application in Vietnam’s fresh fruit sector Recommendations on practical conducts were also shared during the sessions. Moreover, information on packaging design of agricultural products was shared by an expert from the well-known Korean Mas C&G Co., Ltd. Last but not least, 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 comprehensive services to the local 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’ presentation, group discussions were organised on the topics of traceability, trade promotion and package designing. Participants had the opportunity to raise their questions and concerns and receive immediate feedback and clarification from the experts.

Expert from Import-Export Department (MoIT) presenting about regulations on certificate of origin

At the training-sharing event, more than 70 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.