Tra fish was processed at Hung Ca Company in Dong Thap Province's Cao Lanh City. (Photo:VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnamese firms involved in fishery and agricultural products were urged to study the sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) of the European Union (EU) markets to opimise opportunities for both sides.

This would help them cope with impending free trade deals and expand their exporter base.

According to Nguyen Tu Cuong from the Vietnam Fisheries Society, the compliance to SPS was a prerequisite for exporters of fishery products, vegetables and fruits to penetrate the EU markets smoothly, amid the impending Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (FTA), which promised to be beneficial to Vietnamese firms due to the elimination of a number of tariff lines.

Cuong also said that all opportunities from the trade deal would become meaningless if Vietnam failed to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards set by the import markets.

He said that local management agencies as well as exporters did not fully understand the EU’s regulations while Vietnam’s regulations remained inconsistent with that of the EU’s.

That is why Vietnam needs a roadmap to harmonise SPS regulations to the EU’s standards to sustainably get access to their markets.

Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director of the SPS office in Vietnam, said that sanitation was of great concern today as Vietnamese firms regularly received warnings from the EU about contents of banned antibiotics, heavy metals, and excess pesticides.

For example, during the past five years, tra fish products from Vietnam have received warnings with regard to hygiene from Spain for 24 batches, and Germany for 14 batches.

Hoa said export firms must closely supervise the process from production to harvest and processing to minimise violations of chemical content. A production chain should be developed based on the connection with farmers to develop areas for raw material to ensure supply of high-quality products, he added.

Regular and timely updates about sanitary regulations for each product were indispensable.

Statistics from the Department of Animal Health revealed that in the first 10 months of 2015, more than 8,000 tonnes of fisheries products were returned due to violations of sanitary regulations.-VNA