Blog: Market access to Vietnam gains momentum – ahdb.org.uk

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Thursday, 26 May 2022

I’m pleased to say that we recently hosted our first audit inspection visit since 2020 with one of our priority countries, Vietnam. This market is worth an estimated £4 million to the pork sector over the first five years.
The process of identifying and prioritising market access takes into consideration several factors, such as the economic and demographic profile, industry demand, existing access to the targeted country, animal health status, and sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. As a result, Vietnam is a priority market for the UK.
In 2017, the UK submitted beef, pork and lamb risk assessment import questionnaires. Since then discussions and requests for information have been ongoing.
Securing access is a lengthy process that is often difficult to predict, with external factors coming into play. The African swine fever (ASF) situation in Asia, for example, has accelerated the momentum of the market access process to Vietnam. As such, pork access has taken priority, followed by lamb and beef.
The other factor to consider is the UK BSE risk status. Vietnam does not recognise the BSE status assessment made by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), instead it requires its own risk assessment.
In 2020, Defra sent an official letter regarding our interest in the pork market, supported by a UK industry information dossier completed by AHDB, to the Vietnam authorities. Since then, we have been in discussion with Vietnam about the possibility of an audit.
Engaging with existing and potential trading partners is crucial in market access work. The importance of good communication has been particularly important over the last three years during the Covid pandemic, and is vital to ensure we remain in a strong position as a potential supplier and to maintain trade flow, as we are competing against the rest of the world to secure access.
The Vietnamese authorities initially agreed to a system audit for ‘UK pork and poultry production and controls’ to take place in March 2022. However, due to Covid, this was postponed until May 2022. A successful outcome of the audit would result in Defra, as the competent authority, being granted permission to approve establishments for export to Vietnam.
As it was a system audit, only a small number of sites were put forward to participate. In partnership with the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), I worked with the selected pork sites and the UK Government to prepare for the audit. AHDB added value to the market access process beyond sharing our market priorities and supportive evidence with UK Government.
It is about communicating our industry ambition for each market in terms of scope for export. Our aim with Vietnam is to export meat, offal, and edible by-products.
Another added value of my role as AHDB Market Access Manager is to be the interface between industry and the UK Government and, being in a particularly advantageous position, to accommodate, within reason, audit visit requests and challenges.
Preparatory work for the audit involved developing an itinerary to visit farms, abattoirs, and cold stores. The Vietnamese visit was challenging, as they only provided one audit team to carry out visits over four days. Given the short time frame and request from the Vietnamese Government, the visit included one poultry farm, one poultry abattoir, one pig farm, and one pork abattoir.
Despite the small number of sites visited, we are still confident of a successful outcome from the audit. This could result in the approval of a system across all four UK nations for pork.
In the next three months, Vietnam will produce an audit report for Defra to consider and respond to. The report will be shared with the UK Government, AHDB and UKECP. Findings of the audit are usually presented in a report with several recommendations. Subject to the level of remedial actions required and the type of findings, access could be granted, or further supportive documents might be needed.
Either way, I’m pleased to say that, while it is a work in progress, the UK is getting closer to gaining access to the Vietnamese market. The delivery of the audit is the result of the strong partnership between AHDB, industry and the UK Government.
I look forward to keeping you updated. In the meantime, find out more about this market in our country focus report.
Read our country focus report for Vietnam
Market Access Manager
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