Vietnamese quarantine and plant health experts visited Chile recently to discuss a potential protocol for importing apples and cherries from the South American country.
According to a release from the Chilean Fruit Exporters' Association (ASOEX), representatives from the Vietnam's Plant Protection Department (PPD) met with various officials including Chilean Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker.
The visit from March 9-16 also included inspections of fruit fields and packhouses.
Minister Walker said the meetings were very positive and he hoped they would yield positive fruits, making note of the bilateral benefits of trade.
"In the future we hope to see Vietnamese mangoes in Chile, and our apples, cherries, kiwifruits and other fruits entering Vietnam," he said.
"We have complementary production, which benefits both countries."
ASOEX president Ronald Bown noted Asia-Pacific markets were taking on an increased relevance for Chile's fresh fruit exports, so receiving such a Vietnamese delegation was very important.
"As we believe relationships should be reciprocal, we hope that this meeting will allow for the opening of the Vietnamese market for Chilean fruit, as well as the opening of the Chilean market for Vietnamese fruit," Bown said.
PPD national deputy director Dr. Nguyen Quy Duong noted familiarity with the quality of Chilean table grapes, which are currently the only Chilean fruit allowed in the market.
According to data from UN Comtrade, Vietnam imported 1,687 metric tons (MT) of Chilean table grapes in 2017 with a value of US$3.56 million.
Chile's current trade represents just a small fraction of the US$3.7 billion worth of fruits and nuts that Vietnam imported in 2017.
In terms of fresh apples, Vietnam's imports in that year stood at $66.8 million with the U.S. as the leading supplier, followed by New Zealand, China, France and Canada.
Meanwhile the country's fresh cherry imports were worth $17.6 million with the U.S., New Zealand, Canada and Australia as the main suppliers.
The Vietnamese inspectors visited operations in the Metropolitana, Valparaíso, O'Higgins and Maule regions, as well as the Port of Valparaíso and the Lo Aguirre quarantine laboratory and station.
"Vietnam and its more than 91 million inhabitants have transformed into a very attractive market for our exports, " said ASOEX general manager Miguel Canala-Echeverría.
"In 2015 this country suspended the entry of Chilean fruit - a situation we have been improving through a long period of negotiation together with the authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture and SAG (Agriculture and Livestock Service), achieving re-entry for Chilean table grapes in 2016," he said.
"We are on the verge of consolidating the entry of our apples, to continue with our cherries."