Loopholes make Vietnam farm produce vulnerable to counterfeiting

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has written to the Government Office, highlighting major loopholes that could make it easy for Chinese products to bear Made-in-Vietnam labels. Vietnam has no regulations on origin traceability and identification of homemade products, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Loopholes make Vietnam farm produce vulnerable to counterfeiting,

A customer selects tomatoes at a Co.opmart supermarket in HCMC

Vietnam is currently flooded with China-grown agricultural products, such as carrots, potatoes and mandarins, disguised as farm produce originating in Da Lat City, Tien Giang Province and Thailand.

The ministry pointed out three major reasons for the alleged fraud, with the first being that Vietnam’s regulations fail to instruct traders to stick labels on packages of farm produce, which are sold directly to customers.

The second loophole is related to origin traceability, with the ministry noting that the regulation on this has yet to be applied effectively and widely to farm produce. In addition, the Government’s Decree 15/2018 guiding the application of some articles of the law on food safety and hygiene includes a regulation only tracing origins of unsafe products and those requested by agencies, if necessary.

The third loophole determined by the ministry relates to regulations on the identification of Vietnamese products. In fact, Vietnam has yet to issue criteria for how a product is recognized as being Vietnamese. Although the country has regulations on identifying Made-in-Vietnam products, these regulations are applied only to exports and not to items sold in the domestic market. As a result, the competent agencies find it hard to determine which products are Vietnamese.

The ministry stressed that most farm produce being sold in traditional markets does not bear any label with printed origin notes, creating favorable conditions for the penetration of disguised products in the market. Therefore, in the absence of evidence and legal basis, the competent agencies typically fail to handle these fake products.

Nguyen Thi Hong Minh, chairwoman of the Food Transparency Association, said that origin traceability was aimed at ensuring food safety, showing origins, fighting fake products and tightening control. Vietnam, however, does not have criteria and regulations stipulating farm produce must have origin.

Besides this, the ministry also attributed the rampant emergence of low quality and counterfeit products in the domestic market to the development of unregulated trade.

Therefore, the ministry proposed two solutions: minimizing unregulated trade and fostering formal trade, and encouraging manufacturers to churn out high-quality and safe products with origin notes printed on packages.

According to Nguyen Van Ngai from Hoa Sen University, incomplete distribution systems and small-scale manufacturers were making the solution to limit unregulated trade hard on Vietnam’s economy. Ngai suggested that the Government manage sources of imports well and impose technical barriers to prevent fake products from entering Vietnam.


Loopholes make Vietnam farm produce vulnerable to counterfeiting,