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Agriculture

Access to Vietnamese market celebrated despite challenges

───   ROBYN SCHUTTE 05:00 Tue, 19 Mar 2024

 Access to Vietnamese market celebrated despite challenges | News Article
The approval to export citrus to Vietnam comes as a welcome relief for South Africa's citrus industry. Photo: CGA

The approval to export citrus to Vietnam comes as a welcome relief for South Africa's citrus industry, which has faced challenges in traditional markets like the European Union.

Citrus exporters have secured access to the lucrative Vietnamese market in a landmark development for South Africa's industry, following years of negotiations and regulatory hurdles.

The journey to gain entry into Vietnam's market has been long and challenging. Nearly a decade ago, Vietnam implemented stringent plant health regulations, requiring countries to undergo a comprehensive Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for perishable products like citrus. This marked a pivotal shift from an open market to a regulated one, necessitating exporters to navigate complex procedures to meet stringent regulatory standards.

"We've navigated through rigorous assessments and negotiations to ensure compliance with Vietnamese regulations,” said Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa, emphasising the significance of this achievement.

The approval to export citrus to Vietnam comes as a welcome relief for South Africa's citrus industry, which has faced challenges in traditional markets like the European Union (EU). Stringent EU regulations, particularly concerning pests like Citrus Black Spot (CBS), have disrupted exports and incurred significant compliance costs.

Chadwick highlighted the importance of diversifying markets amid ongoing trade challenges, "Access to the Vietnamese market is a game-changer for our industry. It opens up new opportunities for growth and expansion, especially amidst uncertainties in traditional markets like the EU."

Vietnam's growing economy and rising consumer demand make it an attractive destination for South African citrus exporters. With the potential to absorb a substantial volume of citrus exports, Vietnam represents a significant growth opportunity for the industry.

Ageing infrastructure and equipment deficiencies at South African ports cause problems. Photo: CGA SA

However, challenges remain, particularly concerning port infrastructure and logistics. Ageing infrastructure and equipment deficiencies at South African ports have posed logistical hurdles, requiring close collaboration between industry stakeholders and port authorities to ensure smooth operations.

As South African citrus exporters gear up to tap into the Vietnamese market, industry leaders stress the need for continued collaboration and proactive measures to address regulatory and logistical challenges. By leveraging opportunities in emerging markets and strengthening partnerships, the citrus industry aims to cement its position as a leading player in the global citrus trade landscape.

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