Le An Hai, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department for Asian – African Markets, speaks at the workshop. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The full introduction of the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s positive list system (PLS) for agricultural chemical residues in foods is not only a challenge for Vietnam’s farm produce but also an opportunity for the country to improve its product quality to access tougher markets.

Le An Hai, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Department for Asian – African Markets, told a workshop held by the MoIT and the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) in Ho Chi Minh City on June 21 to update Vietnamese businesses operating in agricultural production and export on the PLS.

The RoK introduced the PLS for imported nuts and tropical fruits in December, 2016, and the country plans to implement the PLS for all agricultural products starting from January 1, 2019, said Kwon Chan-hyeok, a representative from the MFDS.

All agricultural products and processed food imported into the RoK or produced, processed, distributed or sold in the country are subject to the PLS, excluding commodities used for purposes other than food, such as medicinal herbs, according to the MFDS.

The RoK is among Vietnam’s big agricultural product buyers. The RoK’s imports of Vietnamese agricultural, forestry and fishery products rose from 700 million USD in 2015 to 1.8 billion USD last year, representing 3.4 percent of the Korean purchases of farm produce from overseas, Hai noted.

To maintain a foothold in the Korean market and made full use of the Vietnam–Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA), he urged Vietnamese farmers and exporters to swiftly adapt themselves to the new requirements.

He also advised the firms to regularly get updates on the new requirements and policies for imported goods from their foreign markets; and invest more in applying advanced technology in production and use pesticides more wisely to ensure food safety and sustainable development.

Some exporters attending the event voiced the necessity to properly control the use of pesticides from the agricultural production to distribution. To this end, they will need cooperation of all those involved like farmers and wholesale buyers.

In addition, the government must also take tougher actions to effectively control the use of pesticides.

Disqualified food imports will be sent back or discarded so the Korean side recommended that, to avoid this situation, Vietnamese farmers and exporters should check the maximum residue limits authorised by the RoK prior to the use on the website: www.foodsafetykorea.go.kr/foodcode. -VNA.