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China’s vegetable flocking into Vietnam   2008-11-19 - Tuoi tre

Everyday, hundreds of  vegetables and fruits are crossing the Vietnam-China border gates, which are then carried to Hanoi and northern provinces, and even to HCM City in the south. And most of these vegetables and fruits do not go through any food hygiene examination. 


The vegetable is carried to Vietnam with self-modified trucks

China’s produce has been flocking into Vietnam after the historic flood in Hanoi and the northern provinces in early November. Tuoi Tre Newspaper said that the Tan Thanh border gate alone in Lang Son province is witnessing hundreds of vegetables crossing the border every day.


The bustling border vegetable market


It was 2:00pm. The self-modified trucks were seen running from the Po Chai market in China, crossing the border gate and marching to the Tan Thanh Market in Vietnam. “Vegetables are coming,” said Be Van Hieu, a local resident, who worked as the hired porter.


Hieu and I came to the border police station and went through procedures to go in to Chinese territory. We came to the Po Chai market several minutes later.


The vegetable market gathered behind the main building of the Po Chai market. When we arrived, we could see three vehicles filled with vegetables. The vegetables were then unloaded from the vehicles to put on Vietnamese self-modified trucks. The vegetables that were purchased for Vietnamese people from China were cabbage, peas, cauliflowers, garlic, peppers, and onions.


Hieu related that the trucks carried vegetables from Chinese localities with orders by Vietnamese traders. The vegetables are then carried to the Tan Thanh market without bearing any kind of tax. At the Tan Thanh market, traders will collect vegetables and carry them to Hanoi and the northern provinces for retailing.


We could see more than ten tonnes of vegetables going through the border gate during a two hour stay at the Po Chai market.


Nguyen Thi Hang, a small vegetable merchant in Bac Giang Province, said that since Hanoi and the northern provinces have been seriously lacking in produce, she and some other women decided to go to the border gates to purchase vegetables for re-selling in Hanoi. Everyday, at 2:00 pm, Hang began making calls and placing orders. Hang said that she purchases four tonnes of vegetables a day.


Hang said that the prices of vegetables imported from China have increased sharply. Tomatoes, which was sold at VND 3,000/kg last week, has risen to VND 5,000/kg after Vietnamese traders tried to collect vegetables.


Pesticide residues? No one knows


The vegetable quarantine at the border gates has been relaxed. Most of the imported vegetables have only been examined to find out pestilent insects, while no one can say if the vegetables contains pesticide residues.


According to Be Thi Thu Hien, Head of the Vegetable Quarantine Station at the Tan Thanh Border Gate, some five tones of vegetables have gone through the Tan Thanh border gate every day over the last two weeks.


“The vegetables had the quarantine certificate granted by Chinese agencies. We will take samples for quarantine when we have doubts,” said Hien.


She admitted that she and her colleagues only checked to find insects, while they have not checked the vegetable quality and pesticide residues.


According to Phan Tran Kien, Deputy Head of the Health Quarantine Teamwork at the Tan Thanh border gate, his team just examines imported vegetables with quick tests, which do not allow finding certain kinds of substances.


In fact, only a small volume of imported vegetables have been declared at the border gate agencies. It is because, under the current regulations, only customs declarations are required for the consignments valued less than VND 2 million, while taxes and quarantines are not required.

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