Grapes, mandarins and oranges will be removed from a list of 38 Australian fruits that Viet Nam suspended imports of in January due to a fruit fly epidemic that affected production in Australia. Viet Nam is expected to reopen its doors to imports of three kinds of Australian fruit on August 1, said Hoang Trung, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department. Grapes, mandarins and oranges will be removed from a list of 38 Australian fruits that Viet Nam suspended imports of in January due to a fruit fly epidemic that affected production in Australia, Trung said. Australia has adopted adequate technical measures, and the department is in the final stages of giving its approval, he said, adding that the production, processing and preservation of these fruits were in line with Viet Nam’s plant quarantine standards. The two sides are drawing up the legal framework, especially the rules on import conditions, to enable other products to enter each other’s markets, Trung said. A media release issued by Australian Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce on July 17 said the Australian Government had announced the resumption of citrus and table grape exports to Viet Nam. The minister said Viet Nam had sought stronger assurances on a range of biosecurity measures.
“We value our trade relationship with Viet Nam very highly, and we are committed to providing the country products that meet its import requirements,” Joyce said. “Australia takes biosecurity very seriously, and I am very pleased that we have been able to satisfy Viet Nam’s requirements for horticultural exports of the highest standard.” Jeff Scott, CEO of the Australian Table Grape Association, said the table grape industry welcomed the resumption of exports to Viet Nam. “Prior to the suspension, table grapes accounted for US$32 million out of Australian fresh fruit exports to Viet Nam worth $40.9 million in 2014, so Viet Nam is a very important market for grapes. It is our second largest export market,” Scott said. The CEO of Citrus Australia, Judith Damiani, said he was delighted to see the Vietnamese market open in time for the current citrus export season. “I know some of our grower-exporters will be keen to resume trade with Viet Nam over the next few months,” he said. Joyce said it was a win-win situation. Opening market access for Australian producers allows them to command higher prices at the farm gate, while expanding consumer choice in overseas markets, he said. “Our work with Viet Nam has always been positive, productive and focused on resolving issues to the satisfaction of every party,” Joyce added. “It is important that trade resumes as soon as possible, both for the livelihoods of our horticulturists and so that Vietnamese consumers have the opportunity to purchase quality produce from Australia.” In 2014, Australia exported more than 13,000 tonnes of fruit to Viet Nam. When the fruit fly epidemic occurred in Australia, many countries, including Viet Nam, suspended imports of fruit from the country to prevent the spread of the epidemic and due to worries about safety and hygiene. The suspension came into effect on January 1, 2015, in Viet Nam. — VNS