U.S. TPP Objectives: Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Non-tariff trade barriers, such as duplicative testing and unscientific regulations imposed on food and agricultural goods, are among the biggest challenges facing exporters across the Asia-Pacific region.  An effective regulatory program should protect the public interest – for example in health, safety, and environmental protection – and do so in a manner that is no more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve the policy goal.  The United States is therefore seeking in TPP to strengthen rules intended to eliminate unwarranted technical barriers to trade (TBT) and build upon WTO commitments in this area, and to ensure that sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) are developed and implemented in a transparent, science-based manner. Read more

Mekong Delta urged to reform plans to attract more investors

Mekong Delta urged to reformYasuzumi Hirotaka, JETRO CEO, said that he had taken part in many conferences about the issue, but nothing changed in reality. Although the Delta has abundant marine products, cheap labour and land-use costs, its marine industry was not advanced technologically, and its market and customer base are poorly developed. In addition, the low quality of infrastructure and services at industrial parks, the lack of local parts and materials, and poor transportation remained challenges in the area. Read more

ASEAN Harmonization in the Food Sector

ASEAN and the agro-food industry38% of ASEAN’s 620 million population, or 235 million, is involved in the agriculture and food sector. This is the largest employment sector for ASEAN. As the majority of ASEAN countries rely heavily on the sector for growth, trade, investment and employment, free flow of agriculture and food products within ASEAN becomes a necessity. There is enormous potential for intra-ASEAN trade  if ASEAN is able to achieve harmonization of standards and is able to eliminate the most significant technical barriers in the sector. Read more

U.S. Farm Bill will impact Vietnam’s catfish exports

Vietnam catfishThe law tasks USDA with inspecting catfish, instead of the FDA, which has long been responsible. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep), said the law would not immediately affect Vietnam’s tra shipments, but might next year. Vietnamese Embassy commercial counselor in the U.S. said that it would take Vietnam 5-7 years to upgrade the production and processing process to have its quality equivalent to that of U.S. farming, production and processing facilities in compliance with the new farm bill.

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Vietnam catfish: a major crop in the Mekong Delta

SGS Safe Quality Food Inspection ProgramThe fish raising areas total over 5,000ha. In 2001 the Tra output in the entire Delta was only 100,000 tonnes. The number increased to over 1,000,000 tones in 2009, yielding a turnover of 1.4 billion USD. With advanced method, many farms have received the SQF (Safe Quality Food) Certification from SGS based on training in Good Agricultural Practices, which are developed by the  Global GAP  a non-governmental organization that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe.

Nguyen Huu Nguyen, one of many Tra farmers in An Giang Province has been awarded the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certificate by SGS, the international quality inspection firm.

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Vietnam Embassy in U.S. to help companies export to Walmart, Kroger

Cashew nuts for Kroger, WalmartThe Vietnamese embassy in the US will try to talk the world’s leading retailer Walmart into selling Vietnamese products, the embassy’s trade counsellor said. 

He said the commission would use its experience earlier this year of working with the US’s second-leading retailer Kroger — which  operates 2,400 supermarkets for a total revenue of US$94 billion — to help it work with Walmart. Read more

Trade Facilitation Agreement in the “Bali Package,” Dec 2013

Customs 450x-

The trade facilitation part is a multilateral deal to simplify customs procedures by reducing costs and improving their speed and efficiency. It will be a legally binding agreement and is one of the biggest reforms of the WTO since its establishment in 1995. Other agreements struck since then are on financial services and telecommunications, and among a subset of WTO members, an agreement on free trade in information technology products. The objectives are: to speed up customs procedures; make trade easier, faster and cheaper; provide clarity, efficiency and transparency; reduce bureaucracy and corruption, and use technological advances.

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WTO Ministerial “Bali Package,” Dec 2013

Impression“The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which is the key element of the “Bali Package,” and part of the “Doha Package,” would simplify and harmonize dozens of administrative procedures and standards that dictate how goods cross borders or are handled in customs. It would drastically cut red tape that consumes precious resources for governments and companies, while slowing down supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and increasing the cost of goods by an estimated 5 to 15 per cent.” – Victor Fung Read more

Shoes, shirts, and sugar: why Singapore trade talks matter (TPP)

garment coverSINGAPORE — Your GAP shirts and Nike shoes might get cheaper, but the jobs of the 1,350 U.S. employees of Boston-based sneaker-maker New Balance could be in trouble. Detroit automakers might get to sell more cars and trucks into Japan, but the U.S. manufacturers of the fabric used in those vehicles could be out of work. These are among the dozens of tradeoffs in play as officials from the United States and 11 other countries descend on Singapore this weekend to negotiate what would be the largest trade deal in world history — potentially 1.5 times the size of NAFTA and worth as much as $124 billion in new U.S. exports by 2025.

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Driving ASEAN Economic Integration and Trade through MRAs on Food Standards

Pushpanathan SundramThe 2015 deadline is quickly approaching for a single ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Why is economic integration important in ASEAN for the private and public sectors? What role can the food industry play to support the 2015 integration?

Mr. Pushpanathan: Economic integration in ASEAN will help unlock the region’s significant economic growth potential. As a one of the drivers of the global economy, the ASEAN region already has a combined GDP of US$2.2 trillion. This figure is expected to double by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), trade forecast to grow at around 6% across the region. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will encourage the intra- and extra-regional free flow of goods and services, by reducing costs and complexities associated with importing and exporting around the region.

The region’s agro-food industry plays an important role in this growth in trade. Growing at around 36.6% in 2011, it is the fastest growing sector in the region. In many countries in the region, the industry contributes significantly to the GDP, reaching 50 per cent in Myanmar and 33.4 per cent in Cambodia for example.

However, the industry also faces non-tariff barriers and technical constraints that is impeding the growth of trade within ASEAN. These barriers in the food sector stem from the inadequate harmonization in areas such as product registration and labeling standards; highlighting the importance of economic integration and Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on food standards across the region. Read more