Vietnamese salangane nests headed for China hinh anh 1A swift nest farm in Kien Giang (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam's bird-nest exports are expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when the world's largest market, China, opens up this year.

Chinese demand for bird’s nest is growing, but Vietnamese firms need to take new measures to officially export to that country rather than involve in informal border trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said.

Do Tu Quan, head of the Vietnam Swiftlet Farming Association, said Vietnamese exporters hope the two countries would quickly reach agreement and the first order to China could be delivered this quarter.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said the industry has been developing rapidly in the country, mostly in the south, but the unofficial border trade has been resulting in low value and profits.

There are 20,000 nests farmed in 42 of the country’s 63 provinces and cities with approximately 120 tonnes worth 450 million USD harvested annually, according to Tien.

But exports to China account for only 8 percent.

China banned import of bird’s nests of unclear origin from Vietnam in 2011 following a fake product scandal.

It lifted the ban in 2015 and replaced it with tough rules aimed at improving safety and traceability.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have all completed legal procedures to export bird’s nest to China, but Vietnam cannot export officially due to several reasons, including the lack of quality standards for the product and export standards.

In recent years the MARD has sought to promote exports to foreign markets, including China.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations to export the product to China have mainly been conducted through online meetings but are almost complete, deputy director of MARD's department of livestock breeding Nguyen Van Trong said.

Local bird’s nests eligible for exports could meet a third of the demand in China, opening up huge opportunities, Trong said.

The Vietnamese swift-breeding industry began to thrive in 2010, with its production accounting for 3 percent of the global output.

While bird’s nests are a speciality with high economic value and one of the 10 most expensive dishes in the world, their production in the country remains far below traditional agricultural products, and they have yet to be classified as a key national product./.