October 19, 2011
Vietnam suspends raw seafood import license
Due to lack of mandate for implementation of the Law on Food Safety, the license to import raw seafood and food additives for seafood products processing has been suspended by the Vietnamese authorities, said Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters (VASEP).
Under the Law on Food Safety, which became effective on July 1, three ministries of Industry and Trade, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Health manage raw materials and food additives.
However, until now, there has been no decree to guide implementation of the new law. Therefore, seafood processors have become confused about how to import raw material and food additives and who to deal with, said the association.
The Ministry of Health, which used to provide import licenses for all raw material and additives used in processing seafood, said it could no longer give import licenses for the same products as before.
The VASEP said seafood processors urgently needed raw material and additives to complete export contracts for luxury and instant seafood products for holidays at the end of this year and the New Year.
At present, the domestic market is facing a shortage of raw materials because farmers had not expanded the aquaculture industry following huge losses in previous years. Natural disasters have also played their part.
Dao Quoc Tuan, chairman and general director of Tu Hai Trade, Service and Production Company Ltd in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, said the company needed nine to 10 tonnes of seafood per day, but now it is trying to manage from two to three tonnes per day.
The VASEP said Con Dao Seafood and Import-Export JSC had contacted seafood providers from the centre to the south, but it only managed to buy 75% of its needs. The association said processors must also import additives to marinade some seafood products because certain sauces, wine and spices did not exist in Vietnam.
The shortage of raw materials and additives has created difficulties for processors because they must complete export contracts on time. Thus, the association and processors have asked the government to continue issuing licenses until the arrival of decrees guiding implementation of the Law on Food Safety.
They also suggested only one ministry issue licenses to import materials for the seafood processing industry.