Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has paid a four-day trip to the European Union and Belgium to promote agricultural cooperation with the two partners and demonstrate Vietnam’s efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
During the March 21-24 visit, through a series of meetings, the Vietnamese minister pushed for the EU’s lifting of a yellow card, which was imposed on Vietnam on October 23, 2017 due to its failure to meet requirements on IUU fishing prevention.
In his meeting with European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, Cuong reported current implementation of the EU’s recommendations on anti-IUU fishing in Vietnam, highlighting concerted efforts of the entire nation and challenges facing the attempt.
Cuong expressed his hope for improved cooperation between Vietnam and the EU in fighting IUU fishing, and carrying out the Voluntary Partnership Agreement in line with the EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The minister also had a working session with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, during which he stressed the EU’s significant role to Vietnam’s farming sector in terms of partnership, investment and knowledge-technical transfer.
Highlighting the importance of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), he suggested both sides soon ratify the pact to boost trade, particularly of agro-fishery-forestry products.
Cuong asked the EU to take into consideration practical conditions of developing countries like Vietnam during its assessment and inspection of seafood safety control system.
Regarding measures to implement the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement, both host and guest agreed to hold more dialogues to discuss the document content and how to implement the SPS regulations in the EVFTA.
Both commissioners acknowledged and lauded Vietnam’s drastic efforts in increasing laws and policies to counter IUU fishing and monitor food safety. They said the efforts will help stimulate the growth of bilateral comprehensive partnership and facilitate the EVFTA signing and ratification.
The EU side announced that it will send a technical team to Vietnam in May to access the country’s actions against IUU fishing.
In another meeting with Alain Cadec, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries, the Vietnamese official introduced measures Vietnam has employed to deter IUU fishing and asked for support of the EU and Cadec to make the process more effective.
While in Brussels, the minister also met Belgium's Federal Minister for Agriculture Denis Ducarme to beef up farming cooperation with the European country.
Both ministers agreed to promote investment collaboration in agriculture, with Cuong suggesting the Belgian side assist Vietnam in meeting standards and regulations of the country and the EU.
Denis Ducarme said Belgium prioritises joint works with Vietnam, expressing his belief that bilateral farming engagements will expand in the future.