With the slogan of "Vietnam SPS Office accompanies Vietnamese agricultural products", this focal agency implementing the transparency obligations required by the SPS Agreement, aims to disseminate regulations on food hygiene and safety, as well as animal and plant quarantine measures under new-generation Free Trade Agreements that Vietnam has joined including the EVFTA, RCEP, as well as the latest requirements by the EU and China markets.
With that in mind, Mr. Ngo Xuan Nam - Deputy Director of Vietnam SPS Office - has selected key agricultural areas in Vietnam directly involved in exports to organize conferences.
Vietnam SPS Office plans to organize 8 conferences in June. The first of which will be on June 2; Vietnam SPS Office will coordinate with Lam Dong province and neighboring provinces to hold a conference dedicated to groups of businesses and cooperatives exporting to the EU and China.
On June 7, a second conference will be organized in Binh Phuoc. On June 9, Long An province will coordinate to organize a conference followed by another conference a day later in An Giang.
Dr. Ngo Xuan Nam explained the organizational plan for these conferences as follows: Lam Dong is the capital of vegetables and fruits, with strategic significance in exporting to China. Binh Phuoc - a Southeast province - is considered the capital of cashew nuts. In the process of implementing and guiding Order 248, Order 249, the SPS Office has received many feedbacks and requests for help from this locality. On the other hand, Long An has dragon fruit as the main agricultural product, approaching the main harvest period.
"When selecting the deployment locations, we have thoroughly evaluated and invited neighboring provinces to attend, taking each local's own lessons as a basis to form general recommendations, contributing to market information transparency", said Mr. Nam.
After the southern provinces, the conference will move to the North, and will be held in four locations: Quang Nam, Bac Giang, Son La and Thai Nguyen. Vietnam SPS Office will coordinate with Thai Nguyen University, Quang Nam College - the focal points of science - to exchange and discuss in depth about technical issues, help farmers grasp the farming process, and raise awareness about export activities.
From the results of the 8 conferences in June 2022, Vietnam SPS will adjust to conduct 4 additional intensive conferences on agricultural products exported to China in July. Accordingly, the intensive conference on fruits trees will be held in Dong Thap, coffee conference in Dak Lak, dragon fruit conference in Binh Thuan, and seafood conference in Bac Lieu.
Determined to make policies more accessible to the people, Vietnam SPS Office plans to implement 3 breakthroughs in the upcoming series of events.
Firstly, regarding the guiding content, the Office will increase information on specific issues, relevant to the practical activities of businesses, and limit theoretical information.
"The information given needs to focus on essence of the problem. First and foremost, summaries from the Office on the process of coordinating with businesses for many years must be given. New and unfamiliar points must be specified, we will spend the majority of the time to guide", Deputy Director Ngo Xuan Nam emphasized.
Some of the main issues that concern businesses recently, according to Mr. Nam, include detailed instructions on registration and procedures for exporting to China in accordance with Order 248, and Order 249; preliminary processing and preservation technology to meet the increasing requirements of the EU.
Because each export market has different requirements, Vietnam SPS Office advocates to diversify the way information is disseminated. In addition to guiding businesses, the Office will present models and examples of good agricultural practices, ensuring transparency and traceability of products.
Another new point is the control of SARS-CoV-2 virus on packaging, especially for frozen products. This is strictly controlled by China in particular as well as other world markets. A basic solution would be for Vietnam SPS Office to cooperate with Vietnam TBT Office to clarify specific requirements for product packaging.
Along with the conferences, Vietnam SPS Office will coordinate with local Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Departments of Industry and Trade to invite farmers to the model sites. Based on field survey, issues of factory design, hazards control, animals raising in the factory, or gloves and masks requirements for workers will be analyzed and discussed.
"There are seemingly very minute details, but if we don't pay proper attention, it can lead to severe consequences. That's why we want to have clear instructions to help farmers definitively, thereby putting them into production", emphasized Mr. Nam.
Secondly, regarding participants, Vietnam SPS Office is committed to invite a large number of farmers who directly produce, to attend the conference.
"Farmers are the first to plant trees in the ground, the first to drop fish into ponds, initiating the export value chain. They must be fully informed of regulations, market signals, thereby raising awareness immediately from the beginning of the production process", said Mr. Nam.
Through Farmers' Associations in provinces and cities, industry associations, Vietnam SPS Office calls for the enthusiastic participation and response from farmers, helping to spread information about the upcoming series of events in June.
Thirdly, regarding the speaker: In addition to state management agencies, Vietnam SPS Office also invited many scientists from Institutes and universities across the country. The conferences will also have the participation of Vietnam TBT Office. Along with SPS Vietnam Office, TBT Vietnam Office is the focal point for market information related to WTO members.
For the first half of 2022, if businesses encounter problems and difficulties in export, they are confused as to which management agency to contact for answers. As the focal point directly guiding businesses to follow Order 248 and Order 249, Vietnam SPS Office realizes that this is also a bottleneck to be removed.
"Vietnam has a high biodiversity. Therefore, we cannot conduct our activities cursorily if we want the guidelines to integrate deeply into farmers' lives. Hopefully, with these three breakthroughs, our approach will be bring about changes, thereby changing the output product", emphasized Mr. Nam.
From the aforementioned breakthroughs, Vietnam SPS Office aims to help farmers create products with multiple values, meeting the requirements of the most fastidious markets, as well as avoid wasting harvested agricultural products.
Vietnam TBT Office operates under the Ministry of Science and Technology with two main functions. Firstly, the Office notifies the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization on the technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures of Vietnam; the Office also receives and disseminates notifications from WTO member states to relevant organizations in Vietnam.
Secondly, the Office is in charge of questioning and answering. This includes answering questions from WTO member states about technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures for Vietnam. In addition, the Office will convey domestic questions about technical barriers to WTO member states, to ultimately promote Vietnam's exports.
Translated by Nguyen Hai Long
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