Vietnam's Aquaculture Trade: Food Safety and Sanitation Issues

AUTHOR

Le Ha Thanh, Pham Hong Chuong

CITATION

Le Ha Thanh, Pham Hong Chuong (2010). Case Study #10-12, "Vietnam's Aquaculture Trade: Food Safety and Sanitation Issues". In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), "Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies." 13 pp.
URL: http://cip.cornell.edu/dns.gfs/1265385755

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Vietnam's rapidly increasing seafood exports have made a significant contribution to the country's economic development over the past few years, largely as a result of vastly increased production from aquaculture. Currently, processed aquatic products are one of Vietnam's four major export items in value terms. Success, however, breeds new challenges. Experts note that in recent years food safety standards have become a more prominent issue for global trade in agricultural, aquatic, and food products. Like other livestock production, aquaculture uses antibiotics, vaccines, and other production practices that may have food safety implications that can trigger trade restrictions. Most Vietnamese seafood export enterprises are having difficulties understanding the food hygiene and environmental requirements in the individual importing markets as well as in consumer chains. Given the lack of a comprehensive model for managing antibiotics and other chemicals, trade actions against the Vietnamese seafood export sector have been relatively frequent. The sector now faces strict food safety, sanitary, and environmental standards required by developed countries, especially the European Union, Japan, and the United States. Market access for Vietnamese seafood exports has been affected by the rigorous and ever-changing standards. Compliance with these standards has placed a heavy burden on Vietnamese exporters, which are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises. The cost of compliance has also reduced the competitiveness of Vietnam’s seafood industry.

To overcome this challenge and in response to stricter market access requirements, the government and private sector in Vietnam have undertaken a number of actions to secure the entry of its exports in overseas markets. Nonetheless, many problems remain in Vietnam's food safety regulatory system. They include the lack of a comprehensive model for managing antibiotics and chemical and biological products; low awareness of the food sanitation issues of different stakeholders; and lack of institutional, technical, and financial resources to ensure the sanitation standards.

Both the government and the private sector in Vietnam must act faster and more skillfully to strengthen their capacity. Vietnam will also benefit from meeting these requirements because they will help strengthen state management capacity and competitiveness, improve health, and promote more sustainable use of natural resources.

Your assignment is to recommend to the Vietnamese government policies how to deal with the combined food safety and trade issues related to the expansion of aquaculture production for export and domestic consumption.

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