The Middle East and African markets have great demand for seafood, agricultural products, and food. However, exporting to these markets is not easy.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first 10 months of 2023, agricultural product exports to key market areas tend to decrease over the same period. Specifically, America decreased by 20.6%, Europe decreased by 11.8%, Africa alone increased by 21.6% and Asia increased by 5.7%.
In particular, the Middle East and Africa are two large market areas with many countries and territories, are potential and promising markets, with large import demand for Vietnamese agricultural products, especially especially the food product group.
The total export value of agricultural, forestry and fishery products to these two areas in 2022 will reach over 1.6 billion USD (up 2.6% over the same period) and in the first 10 months of 2023 will reach nearly 1.6 billion USD (up 2.6% over the same period). 11.7%).
Of which exports to the Middle East region in 2022 will reach over 836 million USD (up 22.3%), in the first 10 months of 2023 will reach nearly 700 million USD (up 2.6%); Exports to the African region in 2022 will reach over 859 million USD (down 11.3%), but in the first 10 months of 2023 it will reach nearly 900 million USD (up 20.1%).
Mr. Ngo Xuan Nam – Deputy Director of SPS Vietnam Office – said that in the 10 months of 2023, there will be 1,000 notifications on changes to sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) from major markets such as Japan (120), Canada (111), EU (103), United States (80)…, accounting for about 10% of notifications. However, compared to the total number of notifications by WTO members during this period, the number of notifications of the entire Middle East and Africa regions was only 158, accounting for 15% of the number of SPS notifications.
However, according to Mr. Ngo Xuan Nam, although the SPS regulations of the markets in these two areas are stable, with little change, they are not easy to meet. This is a feature worth noting.
Regarding this, a representative of the Department of Quality, Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) – said that Vietnamese agricultural, forestry and fishery products entering these two markets also need to meet a number of requirements. on standardization of products and production processes in agricultural exports to increase competitiveness compared to some neighboring countries with similar products.
“Regulations on food safety measures and animal and plant disease safety (SPS) in each country in the Middle East and Africa region are different, however agricultural and food products brought into the markets are different. This market needs to pay attention to Halal certification,” a representative of the Department of Quality, Processing and Market Development emphasized.
As one of the countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has great demand for agricultural products, food, Halal, organic food, fresh vegetables and fruits. Imports from Vietnam reach 200 million USD/year, seafood imports reach over 80 million USD.
However, according to Mr. Tran Trong Kim – Vietnam Commercial Counselor in Saudi Arabia, this country has strict regulations, agricultural products and food exported here must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration. Saudi Arabia (SFDA) and is subject to SFDA approval.
SFDA not only regulates but also enforces very strict inspection of food hygiene and safety standards. SFDA has the right to officially inspect the operating procedures of competent authorities in the exporting country to Verify that the country’s legal regulations and management systems comply with Saudi Arabia’s food laws, regulations, standards, guidelines, directives and any relevant legislation related to food safety. protect animal and plant health.
The UAE is a wealthy country and its growing population over the past two decades has led to an increase in the consumption of products in general. However, agriculture accounts for only 0.9% of the country’s GDP and 80% of food and beverages are imported by the UAE.
Sharing some notes when exporting agricultural products to the market, Mr. Truong Xuan Trung – Head of the Vietnam Trade Office in the UAE – information, in addition to Halal certificate, health inspection certificate and food inspection certificate For food products, the UAE is an open market, with almost no trade barriers, but this is a very competitive market. Exported products must ensure food hygiene and safety, the proportion of chemicals and pesticides must not exceed the allowed level. It is necessary to negotiate and apply the safest payment terms when dealing with UAE businesses.
Besides the difficulties, according to Mr. Ngo Xuan Nam, the Middle East and Africa are two special regions for the Vietnamese agricultural market. In 2023, the Vietnam – Israel Trade Agreement (VIFTA) will be signed. In addition, the Free Trade Agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also under discussion. These are the first Free Trade Agreements to help open the gateway for Vietnamese goods to reach deep into the Middle East market.
The Middle East region includes 16 countries with about 400 million people. Vietnam’s agricultural and food exports to the Middle East region mainly focus on countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with 6 member countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. Currently, 6 GCC countries are all members of the WTO and have traded agricultural and food products with Vietnam with great export potential, and information related to food safety has been completely accessed.
Regarding the African market, currently 45/55 African countries have participated in the WTO. Therefore, these countries have gradually removed non-tariff barriers, reduced import taxes, creating favorable conditions for Vietnamese goods to enter the market. Vietnam-Africa trade has increased from 2.52 billion USD in 2010 to 5.5 billion USD in 2022. Of which, Vietnam’s exports to Africa reach 2.8 billion USD. Products such as rice, coffee, and seafood are Vietnam’s strong export products.