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Exporters beef up on agriculture export requirements for EU, China

Lao exporters have gained a deeper understanding of the European Union’s (EU) requirements around food safety and plant health requirements in relation to the export of agricultural products to the EU.

A meeting offers insight for Lao exporters on the EU and China’s agricultural product export regulations.

A meeting to discuss these requirements was held on Monday in Vientiane and online by the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, supported by the Systematic Mechanism for Safer Trade (SYMST) project and organised in cooperation with the ARISE Plus project and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce.
Participants included more than 100 Lao exporters and government officials (in person and online). The main focus was on the need to meet food safety and plant health requirements in the export of agricultural products to the European Union and China.
Last year, the EU provided a profitable market for Lao exporters, with the value of trade reaching €533 million. In 2021, the EU was Laos’ fourth largest trade partner, after Thailand, China and Vietnam, making up 4.2 percent of its total trade.
In 2022, the EU imported mainly textiles, footwear, and agricultural products with a total value of €420,000 million.
This strong trade relationship indicates potential for further growth. However, it is crucial that Lao exporters understand the regulations, import requirements, and phytosanitary measures to ensure successful trade.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures are designed to protect human, animal, and plant health from risks associated with pests, diseases, and contaminants.
These measures are critical for maintaining food safety standards in both the EU and China. To export successfully, Lao exporters need to adhere to these regulations and standards.
To support Lao exporters, the EU-funded ARISE Plus project has developed a team of Quality Champions to help enterprises improve quality through the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Lao Quality for Trade platform, a free online tool, assists exporters and potential exporters by providing detailed information about export market quality requirements.
SYMST Project Manager, International Trade Centre, Margareta Funder, said “The SYMST project builds synergies with the ARISE Plus project by providing companies with the necessary skills and awareness to improve their market access opportunities through training and awareness raising.”
“As part of this project, technical assistance is provided to ensure food safety throughout priority export value chains. We also work with national institutions to strengthen the ability of the authorities to enforce food safety requirements.”
Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to the Lao PDR, Vincent Vire, said “As a Least Developed Country, Laos benefits significantly from the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme. This programme allows all products, except arms and ammunition, duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market, giving Lao exporters a considerable advantage and increasing their competitiveness.” 
While the EU is a significant market for Lao agricultural products, other potential markets like China, with its large population and growing middle class, offer promising opportunities.
Understanding the import requirements and phytosanitary measures specific to the Chinese market is essential for success.
In conclusion, Lao exporters can navigate the EU and China markets successfully by understanding import requirements, phytosanitary measures, and quality standards.
With initiatives like the SYMST and ARISE Plus projects, Lao exporters can enhance their competitiveness and establish a strong presence in international markets.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 24, 2023)

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