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Preclearance program resumes to continue exporting Vietnamese fruits to U.S.

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HCMC – To avoid a disruption in the export of Vietnamese fresh fruits to the United States due to the challenging developments of the Covid-19 epidemic, the Plant Protection Department is coordinating with the Representative Office of the USDA’s Animals and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) as well as officials of the U.S. Embassy to resume the preclearance program.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Vietnam exported about 5.18 tons of fresh fruit to the United States since March 25, 2020. The estimated value was up to US$8 million. During this period, the fruit export value decreased slightly compared to last year, 6.000 tons.

However, the export volume until the end of the year can still be equal to or higher than that of last year, following the fruit harvest season in Vietnam, according to Hoang Trung, director of the Vietnam Plant Protection Department.

To achieve this goal, the Plant Protection Department collaborated with experts at APHIS Hanoi and the U.S. Embassy staff to resume irradiation preclearance activities for fresh fruit exported to the United States.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam, U.S. experts from the APHIS program, which started in 2008, had to return home in March 2020. This means the export of fresh fruits from Vietnam to the United States would have to be stopped. The collaboration among the three parties to resend the experts to Vietnam during this time highlighted the U.S. support for domestic agricultural trade.

After successfully finishing his quarantine period upon arrival on September 2, Timothy Westbrook, an APHIS expert, is now working with the current temporary APHIS inspector to ensure a seamless transition to the normal inspection routine.

He will begin full-time inspections under the preclearance operation trade of fresh fruits on September 21 at the Son Son Irradiation Company, the only domestic unit licensed to perform phytosanitary food irradiation for fruits exported to the United States.

Currently, there are six types of fruits from Vietnam allowed to be imported by the United States—dragon fruit, rambutan, longan, litchi, star apple and mango.

The import and export turnover of fruits between Vietnam and the United States reached an average of US$20 million per year.

The Plant Protection Department is negotiating with the U.S. Government to bring grapefruit to the United States in the near future. It is undergoing technical stages, after which the two countries will make a joint statement.

This information was unveiled at a press conference, “Irradiation Preclearance Program for Fresh Fruit Exported to the United States”, on September 25 in HCMC, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States.

By My Huyen

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