The Australian Government has announced the resumption of citrus and table grape exports to Vietnam, following a temporary suspension of exports in January.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said Vietnam had sought stronger assurances around a range of biosecurity measures.
“We value our trade relationship with Vietnam very highly and we are committed to providing Vietnam with products that meet their importing country requirements,” Mr Joyce said.
“Australia takes biosecurity very seriously, and I am very pleased that we have been able to satisfy Vietnam’s requirements for horticultural exports of the highest standard.”
Mr Joyce said he has been working closely with the Vietnamese Minister for Agriculture, Minister Phat to address any concerns.
“Australia has been able to provide detailed assurances of the strength of the systems we have in place,” Mr Joyce said.
“Most recently, my department facilitated a verification inspection visit by Vietnamese officials in May 2015. On this visit, draft import protocols were provided by Vietnam towards reinstating access for oranges, mandarins and table grapes.”
As a result, Vietnam has issued new import permits for certain varieties of citrus and table grapes.
Important market for table grapes
CEO of the Australian Table Grape Association, Jeff Scott, said the table grape industry welcomed the resumption of exports to Vietnam.
“Prior to the suspension, table grapes represented $32 million out of a total $40.9 million in Australian fresh fruit exports to Vietnam — so Vietnam is a very important market for grapes. It is our second biggest export market,” Mr Scott said.
CEO of Citrus Australia, Judith Damiani, also welcomed the resumption of citrus exports to Vietnam.
“I’m delighted to see this market open in time for the current citrus export season,” Ms Damiani said.
“I know some of our grower-exporters will be keen to resume trade with Vietnam over the next few months.”
Minister Joyce said it was a win-win situation.
“Opening market access for Australian producers allows them to command higher prices at the farmgate, while expanding consumer choice in overseas markets,” he said.
Mr Joyce is confident other horticulture commodities currently affected by the Vietnam suspension will also be resumed.
“It is important that trade resumes as soon as possible, both for the livelihoods of our horticulturalists and so that Vietnamese consumers have the opportunity to purchase quality produce from Australia,” he said.
“Australia has made technical market access submissions across a wide range of horticultural exports to Vietnam and I am committed to ensuring we demonstrate the safety and quality of all agricultural exports to every market we serve.
“We have a strong two-way trading relationship with Vietnam, and earlier this year Australia finalised procedures that would allow imports of Vietnamese lychees meeting Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.
“This kind of two-way trade allows Australian consumers access to goods out of season – and assist the growth and profitability of our domestic industries in a global market.”
In 2014 Australian exported over 13,000 tonnes of fruit to Vietnam valued at $40.9 million.