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|A tra catfish processing line for exports. - Photo: Vneconomy|
The Asia-Africa Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said the Saudi Embassy in Viet Nam recently sent a note to Vietnamese authorities to notify them of the decision from the Saudi Arabia Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) allowing 12 Vietnamese enterprises to export some seafood products to the country. These firms include Halong Canfoco – Danang – Company Limited, Binh Dinh Fishery Joint Stock Company, Tin Thinh Co Ltd and FUJIURA Nha Trang Ltd.
After more than two years of efforts between the MoIT, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and Vietnamese representative offices in Saudi Arabia, SFDA has initially allowed a number of Vietnamese businesses to export wild-caught fish.
The list of 12 Vietnamese enterprises and seafood products allowed by SFDA to export to Saudi Arabia is available at the sfda.gov.sa/sites/default/files/2020-09/vitnam-fish_0.pdf.
To achieve this result, Vietnamese businesses have also worked with authorities to overcome shortcomings and complete self-assessment dossiers to send to Saudi Arabia.
This is a good sign for Vietnamese seafood exporters, opening a new direction for the domestic seafood industry, especially in the context of seafood exports to many markets facing difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Asia-Africa Market Department, the MoIT will continue to co-ordinate with MARD and related agencies to ask SFDA to add more Vietnamese businesses to the list of firms eligible for seafood exports to Saudi Arabia. This will help completely remove the order to suspend imports of seafood from Viet Nam.
However, Vietnamese seafood exporters also need to note that Saudi Arabia is a demanding market for food safety and hygiene.
This is also a leading market in the Middle East, so Saudi Arabia's policy moves could exert influence on other markets in the region.
Therefore, local seafood enterprises need to review, strengthen inspection and supervision of the farming and production environment in seafood production and processing establishments to ensure quality, hygiene and food safety for seafood products exports.
This also contributes to limiting the possibility of Saudi Arabia re-applying the import ban on seafood products from Viet Nam in the future.
The department said since January 2018, Saudi Arabia suspended imports of seafood originating from Viet Nam after an inspection team of SFDA came to Viet Nam. They concluded some shrimp and tra fish production and processing facilities in Viet Nam did not meet requirements of food hygiene and disease safety.