ACFTA upgrade to further facilitate Vietnam’s exports to China: official17/01/2024 105
Vietnam serves as chair of the sessions on food safety and sanitary and phytosanitary measures during this time’s negotiations on the upgrade of the ASEAN - China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), expected to further facilitate Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s exports to China.
Talking to the Vietnam News Agency, Le Thanh Hoa, Director of the Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point (SPS Vietnam), said the participation in the negotiations on SPS measures in free trade agreements (FTAs) has helped promote Vietnam’s stature, especially within the frameworks of ASEAN’s deals with such large trading partners as China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand.
Chairing the sessions on SPS measures during the ACFTA upgrade negotiations, Vietnam will help connect ASEAN countries with not only the General Administration of Customs China but also related agencies in terms of SPS measures, food safety, and trade with the neighbouring market. This will further facilitate Vietnam and other ASEAN countries’ exports to China in the time ahead, he noted.
With the upgrade, the contents on SPS measures that Vietnam previously agreed on with ASEAN and China will also be lifted to be on par with those in the FTAs with the countries, he went on.
Hoa said ASEAN and China set up working groups on food safety, sanitary measures, and phytosanitary measures. The groups have been playing a highly active role in dealing with information and certificates on food safety and SPS measures for goods exported to China, thereby creating favourable conditions for trade between ASEAN, including Vietnam, and China.
During this time’s negotiations, relevant parties will discuss to reach consensus on technical issues to further facilitate trade, the official said, adding that when there are any changes related to SPS measures, they will have to release clear notifications, build a coordination mechanism for handling technical issues, and jointly deal with technical obstacles so as to foster trade more strongly.
Via the SPS mechanism, China has pledged support for ASEAN countries and helped such countries as Laos and Cambodia to enhance capacity. Vietnam has also received China’s assistance in technical training to improve its staff’s skills in terms of animal and plant disease detection and food safety.
Hoa said that 17 years since it became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Vietnam has made comprehensive changes. Legal regulations on food safety and SPS measures, managerial agencies, and monitoring processes have accessed advanced standards. Businesses have also applied standards like HACCP and ISO as well as good production practices to meet markets’ requirements.
SPS Vietnam will continue coordination with specialised units to provide sufficient and timely information for businesses, but companies themselves also have to comply with standards to minimise risks during cross-border checks, reduce customs clearance time, and lower expenses, he recommended.
The good compliance with SPS measures has been promoting the export of agricultural, aquatic, and food products and also affirming the quality and safety of Vietnamese products in the global market, according to the official./.