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Russia to reopen door to Vietnam seafood   2009-02-18 - VietNamNet/TN

Russia will reopen its market to Vietnam’s seafood exporters after a three month ban and a number of inspections by Russian authorities at local seafood processing facilities, a Vietnamese official said. 


Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Luong Le Phuong said the decision was good since the Russian market still had “vast potential” for Vietnamese seafood products.


Russia, to which Vietnam exported US$200 million worth of tra and basa catfish (pangasius) last year, banned Vietnamese pangasius and dried seafood imports in December after it found some batches of unclean, unqualified products.


A ministry mission visited Russia last week to hold talks on reopening the market, Phuong said.


Phuong said the Russian authorities promised to re-grant import licenses to 10 processing factories that they had inspected.


They would also consider relicensing another 15 facilities after inspections.


A group of four Russian officials arrived in Hanoi late Tuesday and would begin their working trip today, which lasts through the weekend.


Another group of higher-ranking officials from Russia will visit Vietnam next week to discuss bilateral efforts to ensure the quality of seafood products, Phuong said.


He also said the ban served as a “good lesson” for Vietnamese farmers and businesses, said Phuong.


A Vietnamese-Norwegian project is under way to produce vaccines to be used in seafood processing instead of antibiotic substances, which could easily leave residues in products, said Phuong.


Vietnam’s exports of tra and basa fish reached a total of $1.2 billion last year.


Exports to Russia grew over 80 percent last year compared to 2007, making Russia the biggest market for Vietnamese catfish and the fifth largest for seafood in general.

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