ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Vietnam, Belgium eye seafood pact
Vietnam and Belgium are looking to establish a centre to distribute and auction Vietnamese seafood products at the port of Zeebrugge in northwestern Belgium.
The news was released by Bruno Angelet, Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam.
Tran Tuan Anh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, recently held a working session with the Belgian ambassador to discuss setting up a distribution centre, which is expected to help Viet Nam's seafood exports to penetrate deeper into the Belgium market with its 11 million consumers and also establish a springboard for exports into the wider EU market.
This common distribution centre idea was sparked by the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (VASEP) and the Embassy of Belgium. Its aim is to find ways to promote sustainable development for seafood exports to the EU market, said Ambassador Bruno Angelet.
Once the centre is set up, it will help exporters reduce their shipping costs by combining the volume of their exported products. It will also provide them with an opportunity to sell directly to the retailers and supermarket chains in Europe rather than going through a middleman.
Additionally, selling seafood in Europe through one common channel means that the quality and price of the fish be more uniform, more transparent and more controllable, thus eliminating unhealthy competition.
The deep sea Zeebrugge Port is considered an ideal location for the distribution centre because Belgium is considered a key distribution hub in Europe.
Viet Nam has chosen to lead off with seafood to establish its centre because it is one of the fastest-growing exports to Europe.
In 1999, Viet Nam had only 17 seafood companies eligible to export their products to the EU, but the number has now risen to 415.
In addition to the United States and Japan, the EU is one the largest importers of seafood from Viet Nam, accounting for 18.5 per cent of the country's total seafood export revenue.
The distribution centre is hoped to offer a great opportunity for Vietnamese companies to increase their seafood exports to this large market, said Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh.
He added that this will be a foundation for Viet Nam to open more distribution centres for other commodities in the future.
However, the Deputy Minister underscored the need to develop a specific roadmap for the project in order to run it effectively.
He said his ministry will co-ordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, VASEP and related Belgian agencies to conduct a feasibility study.
At first, the trade promotion department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade will co-ordinate with the Belgian embassy in Ha Noi to organise a seminar to introduce the project and appoint a group of experts to manage it.
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