Vietnam's tea producers should meet Fairtrade International's certification standards to increase the competitive quality of tea products and improve their export value, said experts.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the national tea export value in the first half of this year saw a reduction of 6.7 percent in volume to 54,000 tonnes and 4.1 percent in value to 90 USD million against the same period last year.

Vietnam is one of the top five tea producers in the world and exports tea to 120 countries and territories, including Taiwan, Pakistan, mainland China, the United States, and Russia, as well as Malaysia and Singapore.

Vietnamese tea products have covered 60 percent of the black tea market and 40 percent of the green tea market in the world.

However, Hoang Vinh Long, Head of the Vietnam Tea Association's administration office, said Vietnamese tea export is mostly pre-processing products packaged in large bags without any brand name, so their export value has been low because Vietnamese tea exporters have not built a brand or produced finished tea products for exporting to direct customers.

Meanwhile, most Vietnamese tea producers and traders have small production and business units, low capital, and limited skills for marketing and negotiating export contracts, he noted.

The other reasons for the low export value of tea products include the poor skill of tea growers, small investments in the tea industry, low supply, undeveloped tea processing industry, and unstable quality.

Now, customers at home and abroad pay more attention to the origin of products and production conditions at enterprises, according to the association. Therefore, Vietnam's tea producers should get the international fairtrade certification to improve the quality and competitiveness of Vietnamese tea products on the world market.

The fairtrade certification is one of the current trends in international trade, Nguyen Thi Hong Minh from the Vietnam Research Institute of Rural Industry was quoted as saying by the Thoi bao Kinh doanh (The Business Times) newspaper.

Many customers value the certification that supports fair production and business practices and respects sustainable living environments, she said. These issues are new for Vietnamese tea producers, and hence, they have not paid much attention to them.

Long pointed out that Vietnam has only two tea producers who have the international fairtrade certification: Bac Ha Investment and Development Company Limited and Shan Tea Cooperative in Yen Bai province.

Interests of the certification are to have more export market and a higher export price, as well as establish long-term and sustainable business relations, he added.

However, local tea producers' knowledge of the certification is low, he observed. Most of them have small capital, while large investments are needed to improve production and product quality, two requirements for attaining the certification.-VNA